How Great Britain's golden boys and girls are already inspiring the next generation
The continuing success of Team GB at the London 2012 Games has already inspired legions of people to sign up at sports groups and clubs across the city. Chris Jones, Heather Saul and Ella Rhodes report on the “Olympic Effect” in Derby.
FOR the past few days, the phone at Derby City Gymnastics Club has been ringing off the hook with calls from wannabe Olympic champions.
The success of Team GB's medal quest so far in the London 2012 Games has been inspiring people to take up sports across the city, and at the Chapel Street gym, organisers have been taking calls from dozens of youngsters keen to emulate the glory of their new heroes.
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Dean Walters, coach and owner, said that in the past week the club had been inundated with nearly 60 calls from people wanting to join.
He said: "There has been a sharp increase in applications especially from ten-year-olds and 11-year-olds, which was surprising.
"We've got about 250 people on our waiting list at the moment. There were at least 50 or 60 people who rang up in the last ten days.
"There's obviously a link between this rise and the Olympics. There was a steady stream of applications before the Games and we had a waiting list prior to the Olympics but there's definitely been a spike in interest."
Yesterday, 27-year-old Beth Tweddle claimed a bronze medal in gymnastics, boosting Team GB's medal haul yet further in what has been an impressive Games so far for the host country.
And English boxing hope Luke Campbell secured at least a bronze medal in the boxing – another sport which has been attracting more interest since the start of the Games.
Alex Neave, boxing coach and founder of Derby Boxing Academy, said he had taken on a couple of women boxers after the Olympic success of Natasha Jones, who became the first female Briton to win an Olympic boxing match as the women's event made its debut at the Games.
He said: "We have had a few new females ask to join because they want to be part of Team GB in the future.
"They are young and they are looking for a sport to get involved with and they have seen women's boxing become part of the Olympics.
"Everyone has been watching the Olympics and it has really brought a lot of people along to the club. People seem really up for sport.
"Of course, you'll see this effect on tennis courts after Wimbledon or on football pitches during the World Cup.
"A lot of people drop off when they realise how hard a sport is and how much you have to give to compete at a high level.
"But if only 1% of people stick at it, that will have been a positive thing to come out of the Olympics."
Derby Rowing Club has received nearly 25 e-mails in only a couple of days from people keen to join up, get out on the water, and start training in the mould of the hugely successful Team GB rowers, who between them have scooped nine medals, including four golds.
And since Bradley Wiggins won gold in cycling's individual time trial, membership for cycling clubs has "absolutely exploded", according to local cycling experts.
Jim Crew, chairman of local cycling group Derby Mercury, said: "Last week we saw a significant rise in new members. People were just turning up at meetings.
"It was exciting, especially as Wiggins is such a top bloke, an ordinary guy. From hereon in, cycling is just going to get bigger and bigger."
Campaign group Cycle Derby has also reported a steady growth in interest in the sport as the Games have progressed.
The organisation is now preparing to put in place more cycling clubs to accommodate the surge of children wanting to take up the sport.
Tracey Fletcher, of Cycle Derby, said: "There is definitely more interest in cycling now. Parents have been ringing to say that their children are interested in joining clubs. We have also had people ringing to inquire about jobs such as coaching."
Bicycle shops in the city centre have also noticed more and more customers bringing in old bikes for repair.
Kyle McClusky, staff member at The Bike Shop Derby, said: "We have had a few more bike repairs than usual. I think we will be seeing a lot more young people cycling."
And Greg Ballington, of Holts Cycles, in Ashbourne Road, says that whilst sales have not steadily risen, more people have been keen to get their old bicycles back on the road.
He said: "People are dragging their old bikes out of the shed and getting them repaired."
Tracey believes that the sudden trend in cycling is set to last, after seeing a steady growth in the sport since Britain's success at the previous Olympics.
She said: "Ever since Beijing four years ago, we've seen an ongoing interest in the sport. We hope that parents keep encouraging their children to get involved."