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The importance of winning

Bronte Barratt, Kylie Palmer, Linda MacKenzie and Stephanie Rice with their Olympic gold medals at the 2008 Beijing Olympics after the women’s 4x200m freestyle relay. There is a boost to domestic sport if our Olympic stars perform well.
Bronte Barratt, Kylie Palmer, Linda MacKenzie and Stephanie Rice with their Olympic gold medals at the 2008 Beijing Olympics after the women’s 4x200m freestyle relay. There is a boost to domestic sport if our Olympic stars perform well.

MAJOR sporting events like the Olympic Games generate a spike in athletics, swimming and other sports, especially if Australians do well.

But sports industry leaders say, not unlike new year's resolutions, the excitement is often short-lived.

QSport - an industry body for affiliated sport in Queensland - finds there is usually a surge in interest through sports registrations for six to 12 months after a major sporting event.

Chief Peter Cummiskey said, historically, swimming and little athletic registrations increased, as it would for other sports such as hockey or taekwondo.

But he said the attention span was not long as the Olympic enthusiasm would soon give way to football finals fever and then the cricket season.

"There's a major debate about whether Australian sporting heroes and heroines, such as Cathy Freeman winning the race of her life in the 2000 Olympics, (has an effect)," he said. "Does it mean more indigenous women or just more women or just more Australians who look at that performance are somehow encouraged by it and decide I want to be like Cathy freeman?

"The interesting thing is that, anecdotally, there is an increase of interest in some Olympic sports and some interest in non-Olympic sports too.

"There is some truth to the notion that events like this capture the imagination of the community and translate to getting involved in sport."

Mr Gynpher said that could mean wanting to get fit, return to a sport someone has once played or encourage children to take up a sport.

"There's no doubt something like that happens in some households across the country," he said. "But, equally interesting, this spike after the Olympics tends to flatten out after six to 12 months ... (as) other events come over the top."

Queensland Athletics chief David Gynpher said there was always a "boom" in the number of senior athletes - late high school and university - going into big sporting events like the Olympic and Commonwealth Games because they had hopes they could make the cut.

He said a boost - sometimes up to 25% - in little athletic numbers nearly always occurred post Games if stars such as Sally Pearson or Mitchell Watt - 100m hurdles and long jump favourites, respectively - perform well.

"The number of athletes in little athletics tend to boom after the games because the primary school age children are inspired by Sally or Mitchell or whoever they'll see over the next two weeks," she said. "It does depend in part on how successful Australian athletes are."

A Fitness first spokeswoman said the gym chain was expecting an influx of people upping the ante in their fitness regime because of the Games.

She said the increase tended to involve people coming into gyms more frequently and people attending more group classes, rather than membership gains.

"Anecdotally - it's not unusual to see an increase in people working out during major sporting events such as Olympic Games," she said. "After the Tour de France we see more people having a go at spin class."

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Topics:  london olympics


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