Cycling legend Sir Chris Hoy believes that the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games has been a roaring success, with its true impact only just beginning writes Milly McEvoy.
Ten years on from the London 2012 Olympic Games, Birmingham delivered a stellar Games, with the likes of Adam Peaty and Eilish McColgan putting in performances that will have inspired future sporting stars – and parents agree.
Research by The National Lottery shows that 80 percent of parents say that the presence of sporting role models can play a key role in encouraging their children to be more active.
“I thought it was an absolutely outstanding Games from Birmingham,” double Commonwealth Games champion Hoy said. “It has been fantastic for the city. It has been great for the whole country.
“It has just been lovely to be in and around Birmingham myself, and really seeing a different side of the city. I think it has been a massive success.
“The most important thing is that I hope it is going to inspire a whole new generation of young people to get active and to get involved in sports.
“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 and get active.”
Hoy believes that not only should people feel inspired by the performances, but they should also personally take pride in them, with National Lottery players helping to fund over 1,000 athletes, including himself.
At the grassroots level, Sport England have invested £35 million into the Commonwealth Games from a combination of National Lottery and government funding with the aim of creating a legacy of active communities across the UK.
He added: “I do not think you can overstate how important The National Lottery funding has been.
“And it was a turning point, you can look at the date that National Lottery funding started from 1998 onwards, just how much it has impacted on the results of British athletes across the board.
“For me, it was the perfect timing, I finished university and I was able to go full time in my sport without having to get a job and it allowed me that first step up.
“Aside from all the other benefits, providing facilities, coaching, all the infrastructure, which gave me the chance to fulfill my potential.
“It has been the same for so many other people out there. It is lovely that the public can rightly feel as if they have had a significant part in the success that they watch on TV or watch live, they can feel that they've contributed to it.”
For Hoy, the perfect first step for children and their families wanting to get active is at a parkrun event this weekend.
National Lottery players raise more than £30million a week for good causes including vital funding into sport – including over £3.6m of funding to parkrun. Sport England invested £35 million into the Commonwealth Games - a combination of National Lottery and government funding - to support a long-term legacy of more active and connected communities across the nation.
More than 240,000 people already get involved each week, walking, running, jogging, or volunteering in their local public spaces, with Hoy having been involved with his own family.
“I'll stick to two wheels,” the six-time Olympic cycling champion joked. “But I have certainly been down with my whole family.
“My wife's more into running than cycling, so she took Callum and I looked after our little one who was only three at the time.
“But what is wonderful about it is that it’s genuinely a properly welcoming family affair and it's not too serious, if you want to go as fast you can you obviously can, but you can just run along together with other kids, other families and enjoy being in lovely surroundings.
“And it is 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 as well, it's accessible to everybody.”
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 to find your local parkrun event, visit www.parkrun.org.uk