Cycling legend Sir Chris Hoy believes the 2022 Commonwealth Games in Birmingham were a resounding success and their true impact is only just beginning. writes Milly McEvoy.
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Sir Chris Hoy saw the introduction of national lottery funding for cycling as a game changer. (Photo by Euan Cherry/Getty Images for The National Lottery)
Ten years after the London 2012 Olympics, Birmingham has put on stellar games, with performances like Adam Peaty and Eilish McColgan that will have inspired future sports stars – and parents agree.
Research from The National Lottery shows that 80 percent of parents say the presence of sporting role models can play a key role in encouraging their children to be more active.
“I thought they were absolutely outstanding games from Birmingham,” said two-time Commonwealth Games champion Hoy. “It was fantastic for the city. It was great for the whole country.
“It was just nice to be in and around Birmingham myself and really see a different side of the city. I think it was a huge success.
“Most importantly, I hope it will inspire a whole new generation of young people to get active and get involved in sport.
“I think that would be the best legacy for the games, that we have a whole new generation of young people who are inspired to get out there and get active.”
Hoy believes people should not only feel inspired by the achievements, but should also be personally proud of them as National Lottery players help fund over 1,000 athletes, including himself.
At the grassroots level, Sport England has invested £35m in the Commonwealth Games from a combination of National Lottery and Government funds with the aim of creating a legacy of active communities across the UK.
He added: “I don’t think it can be overstated how important the funding of the National Lottery has been.
“And it was a turning point, you can look at the date that National Lottery funding started from 1998 and how much that has impacted the results of British athletes across the board.
“It was perfect timing for me, I graduated from university and was able to dedicate myself to my sport full-time without having to take a job and it gave me the first step up.
“Aside from all the other benefits, the provision of facilities, coaching and all the infrastructure that gave me the chance to fulfill my potential.
“So many other people out there felt the same way. It’s nice that the public can rightly feel that they have a significant stake in the success they see on TV or live, they can feel that they contributed to it.”
For Hoy, attending a parkrun event this weekend is the perfect first step for kids and their families looking to get active.
National Lottery players raise more than £30m a week for causes including vital funds for the sport – including over £3.6m in parkrun funds. Sport England invested £35m in the Commonwealth Games – a combination of National Lottery and state funding – to support a long-term legacy of more active and connected communities across the country.
More than 240,000 people already get involved, walk, run, jog or volunteer in their local public spaces each week, with Hoy getting involved with his own family.
“I’ll stay on two wheels,” joked the six-time Olympic cycling champion. “But I was certainly downstairs with all my family.
“My wife does more than cycling, so she took Callum with her and I babysat our little one, who was only three at the time.
“But the wonderful thing about it is that it’s really a really welcoming family affair and not too serious if you want to be as quick as possible of course you can but you can just run with other kids, other families and have fun together be in a beautiful environment.
“And it’s local, you can always find a local parkrun, you don’t have to travel too far to get to one, and of course it’s free too, it’s accessible to all.”
The National Lottery and parkrun have joined forces to encourage people across the UK to take part in their local parkrun this weekend. For more information and your local parkrun event, visit www.parkrun.org.uk