Olympic legacy encourages thousands as Wandsworth crowned south west London’s most active borough

Wandsworth is south west London’s most active borough, according to the Active People Survey.

The survey found the borough had an impressive 51% of adults taking part in some kind of sport at least once a week last year.

Wandsworth also contains the most regular sport participants, with 28% of people surveyed doing so three or more times a week.

Councillor James Cousins, who helped campaign for Tooting Common Parkrun, said: “It’s not really that much of a surprise Wandsworth is a generally active borough when you look at the demographics.

“It has a young, educated and relatively affluent population for whom sport and exercise are a normal part of life, and often a big part of their social life.”

Since London 2012 Olympic Games 18,100 more people in Wandsworth have taken up playing sport at least once a week.

Councillor Cousins said: “Wandsworth has some great facilities, but the real challenge isn’t so much about facilities but about building the communities around them and I’d love to see more events that emulate Parkrun’s magically inclusive and encouraging approach.”

In contrast Croydon, the least active borough in the area, had just 34% enjoying sport once a week.

Wandsworth’s neighbouring borough, Richmond upon Thames, was the closest rival, followed by Lambeth and Merton.

The survey, commissioned by Sport England, is the biggest and most detailed of its kind in the country.

It shows a general positive upward trend of the UK’s involvement in sport, with 15.7 million adults nation-wide involved in sport once a week in 2015, but Wandsworth is well above the national average.

Facilities like Barn Elms Sports Centre, Tooting Bec Athletics Track and Gym and Battersea Park Millennium Arena have allowed people opportunities to get involved in sport.

One recent way in which the people of Wandsworth have been encouraged to exercise is through Parkrun, a weekly 5km run which takes place on Saturday morning all over the country.

The first incarnation of Tooting Common Parkrun took place on January 30 after a long running campaign to start the weekly timed community run.

The event gives people of all ages a free way to exercise in a friendly group atmosphere and has proved to be a success with around 300 people attending each week.

Andy Bullock, Tooting Common Parkrun event director, said: “Even after just a month it is brilliant that Tooting is completely embracing the ethos of the event and the determined spirit of Parkrunners.

“Parkrun is actually a bit more than a fun run so we’re also hugely excited to see such a spread of ages and abilities.

“It’s remarkably inclusive and has a hugely broad family demographic. It’s been fantastic to see.”

Wandsworth also has a reputation for youth sporting prowess with the borough having won the last three incarnations of the London Youth Games.

Young people from the likes of Battersea, Putney and Earlsfield have beaten off competition from 32 other London boroughs to take the overall prize in 2013, 2014 and 2015.

The borough is leading the way not just in the south west, but in all of London for getting people active and involved in sport.

Image courtesy of Tooting Common Parkrun, with thanks

Related Articles