What did the Olympics do for Bridlington?

Olympic Torch visits Bridlington
Olympic Torch visits Bridlington

IT IS now four months since the Olympic and Paralympic Games in London finished.

The buzzword of the Games was ‘legacy’ – the chance to inspire people of all ages to get involved with sport.

The images of Mo Farah, Jessica Ennis and Jonnie Peacock winning gold medals are fading with time, and Britain’s golden year of sport has come to an end.

Has Bridlington been able to capitalise or has it missed out on the opportunity of a lifetime?

Free Press sports editor John Edwards asked the council, schools and local sports clubs if they had noticed a difference.

AS A nation, we were glued to our TV screens, watching British athletes, cyclists, boxers and rowers reach the pinnacles of their sporting careers.

High-profile sportsmen like Andy Murray, Bradley Wiggins and Chris Hoy cemented their places as A-list stars with the most sought-after of all medals. Others like Luke Campbell, Nicola Adams and Greg Rutherford turned themselves into household names almost overnight.

For a few weeks, football was kept off the back pages (and the front pages) of our newspapers, as a new breed of sporting heroes were born.

The plan was that once we had all watched them achieve greatness we would get up off our sofas and get active.

Kids would want to be the next Mo Farah, while those who were too old dream of hitting such heights would rediscover their faded love of playing sport instead of watching it down the pub.

Minority sports like archery, beach volleyball and shooting were getting their turn in the TV spotlight. Now was the time to strike and attract children and adults who were bored of football, rugby and cricket.

Sadly, Bridlington did not have anyone competing at the Games, no local figurehead for the town to look up to.

That was the first obstacle, and the second was the fact that it was a 400-mile round trip if you wanted to see anything other than the football - and that was if you were lucky enough to get a ticket in the ballot.

Undeterred, East Riding of Yorkshire Council has set out a number of ways to ensure that Bridlington is a resort for sport.

Adam Toes, community recreation officer, said: “The council is keen to ensure that the Olympic and Paralympic legacy does not fade and are committed to ensuring that many of the programmes developed over the past 18 months continue as an integral part of our delivery in the future.

“As well as the Olympic Torch relay passing through Bridlington on June 18, we have established a number of innovative national programmes in conjunction with a number of key partners to increase awareness and provide new opportunities for the public to increase their physical activity levels.

“While difficult to attribute wholly to the inspirational effect of London 2012, there is anecdotal evidence of increased participation at our leisure centres, particularly relating to swimming, gym usage, fitness classes and especially in off peak periods.

“This increase in demand resulted in the scheduling of additional classes at some sites and is still being sustained nearly three months following the closing ceremony of the Paralympic Games.

“As a result of the London Games and the Change4Life summer campaign to get more people active, we have seen an increase in places taken up at themed sporting sessions run in leisure centres which were branded, ‘2012 Summer Games4Life’.

“The enthusiasm for the London Games is certainly one of the factors why numbers have increased in 2012/13 to over 4,500 places taken up compared to the 2011/12 figures of just over 1,200.

“Although it is unfair to solely credit London 2012 with these increased performance figures, it is fair to say that it was one of the contributing factors.

“The challenge now facing the Council and its partners is how to build upon and embed this legacy and continue to inspire generations for years to come.”

THE slogan ‘Inspire A Generation’ meant getting more children playing sport. Did it work? Rebecca Hoult, PE teacher at Headlands School, explains how the Olympics made a difference to local teenagers.

“At Headlands School we have had more gymnasts join than ever before and had a lot more interest in badminton and table tennis.

“Sports such as netball and football are the same.

“As a School Sport Co-ordinator for the Bridlington Schools, there has been a huge increase with primary school pupils.

“We have so far held cross country (280 pupils) hockey (80 pupils) football (100 pupils) Sportshall athletics (120 pupils) and tag rugby (100 pupils).

“The Olympics definitely inspired our kids). We have lots asking about different career paths in sport and lots asking about GCSEs and BTECs and what levels they need to achieve to get on them.

“The older pupils enjoyed it but are concerned that Bridlington doesn’t offer any ‘excellence’.

“Pupils can progress in school clubs and feed into external clubs but if they want to go higher, aiming for county standard or national standard, there aren’t clubs that offer or support them further in Bridlington, although tthere are a few exceptions such as the boxing club.

They have to travel further afield to places such as Leeds or Manchester.

“I know between all the schools in Bridlington, primary and secondary, we have amazing athletes who can run, throw and jump but there isn’t a specific athletics club who can support them further.

“So yes, the Olympics did inspire the pupils but has also highlighted the lack of facilities, funding, clubs and equipment that there is in Bridlington.

“I have 30 doing gym on a night and when I first started I had six The only problem we have at school is our kids are so talented we are fighting between our different clubs for the same kids.”