Olympic Legacy boosts Wimbledon martial arts club scene


Since the climax of London 2012 the area’s top martial arts instructors have noticed a sharp rise in new members.


By Charlie Skillen, Priyal Dadhania, James Walker and James Cozens

The Olympic Legacy is already having a positive impact on Wimbledon’s martial arts clubs.

Since the climax of London 2012 the area’s top martial arts instructors have noticed a sharp rise in new members.

Ray Stevens, one of Britain’s leading judo instructors and head of Ray Stevens’ judo and fitness centre, near Copse Hill, has been delighted with the increase.

“I think it’s made a huge difference, enthusiasm for judo always peaks around the Olympics – particularly this year as it has been in London.

“I just hope we can keep that momentum going for the next four years,” he said. 

The 49-year-old judoka won silver for Great Britain in the Barcelona games.  

As part of the legacy the London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games, and the government, has vowed to increase grass roots participation in sports.

They also aim to encourage the population to be more physically active as one in four adults is currently obese, the highest percentage in Europe.

Jennifer Lord, 55, of Wimbledon, is proof that the initiative is working. Six weeks ago she joined Fighting Fit in Merton Road.

“It’s the first year a big thing was made about Olympic martial arts,” she said. 

“I think it’s been a big factor for a lot of people. It’s given people more confidence in wanting to join. 

“Everything I do now, I approach with more confidence.” 

Britain enjoyed one of its most successful martial arts campaigns at this year’s Games.

Gemma Gibbons won Team GB’s first Judo medal in 12 years. The 25-year-old won silver in the Women’s under 78kg category.

Alongside Gemma’s success, Karina Bryant won Bronze in the Women’s over 78kg category.

The legacy is also having a positive impact on younger members of Wimbledon’s population.

Ray Stevens has witnessed an increase in the number of children showing an interest in his sport.

He said: “All the children are motivated and keen to take on Judo because they saw it on television.”

It is a turnaround after figures released prior to the games by the Department of Culture, Media and Sport revealed the number of young people in competitive sport is too low.

At present less than four in ten school pupils compete regularly against classmates, with only two in ten competing regularly against other schools.

For information about judo in Wimbledon, visit, or to join Fighting Fit call 020 8715 0463.

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