More inspired to have a bash at sport in South Yorkshire

Inspired: South Yorkshire sports fans.
Inspired: South Yorkshire sports fans.

Millions of viewers across the country tuned in to watch Sheffield’s Jessica Ennis triumph in the heptathlon, but in South Yorkshire at least Olympics fever means more than just watching the Games.

With Team GB riding high in the medals table, the success of our athletics heroes looks to have inspired people to try sport their own hand at sport.

Packing a punch: Ladies boxing at Hillsborough.

Packing a punch: Ladies boxing at Hillsborough.

Bike shops, swimming pools and boxing gyms are among those reaping the rewards of a fresh sporting zeal, while race organisers have reported a surge in entries.

Staff at The Bike Shop on Abbeydale Road South, Dore, said Britain’s gold-plated cycling team, including record-breakers Bradley Wiggins and Chris Hoy, had encouraged locals to climb into the saddle.

Assistant manager Adam Bedford, aged 23, said: “We’ve definitely seen an increase in interest in road cycling over the last couple of weeks. A lot of people are renting, which suggests they want to give it a go for the first time and get a taste of it.

“It’s down to Wiggins, Hoy, Victoria Pendleton and Mark Cavendish - the lot of them.”

Andrew Elston, owner of Langsett Cycles on Infirmary Road, Upperthorpe, called for the council to ensure new enthusiasm for sport among youngsters did not go to waste.

“Three or four years ago kids wouldn’t have been able to name a cyclist but now it is phenomenal,” said 44-year-old Andrew. “It’s what I’m calling the Bradley Wiggins effect.”

“It will take time to filter through properly to the cycle trade but I’m hopeful that the government will increase sports funding and Sheffield Council will think twice about any cuts they might have been planning in that area.”

Big Running Weekend, a trio of long-distance races that take place at the end of August, has seen entries climb 20 per cent since the Games began.

Stuart Hale, 47, one of the organisers, said: “We’re seeing a big increase in enthusiasm for running. Undoubtedly it’s down to Jess.

“She is more than just an athlete, she is an ambassador for the city and I don’t think anyone could deny her that.

Boxing trainer Glyn Rhodes, 52, predicted a surge of interest in the sport among South Yorkshire women after Nicola Adams, who trained in Sheffield, became to first female boxer to win Olympic gold on Thursday.

Glyn, 52, who runs Sheffield Boxing Centre on Burton Street, Hillsborough, said: “It’s brilliant. For four years now we’ve been running women’s sessions at our gym and now they’re going to get even busier.

“Most people come here because they know somebody who boxes, but this will mean people who had never thought about it before look at Nicola and say ‘I want to do that’”.

Swimming pools have also been busy during the Games, despite Team GB’s lacklustre performance in the water.

George Foy, 20, supervisor at Hathersage Outdoor Swimming Pool, said: “We’ve had quite a lot more business over the Olympics, probably because it has given people the idea to go swimming.”