Sports stars unite to inspire people living around Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park to get fit

Boxing legend Barry McGuigan today challenged 12,000 people living close to Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park to get fighting fit as London 2012’s sporting legacy becomes a reality.

The former world featherweight champion and his son, professional boxing trainer Shane McGuigan were joined by Olympic swimmer Adam Whitehead and two time Paralympic medallist Ian Rose to launch the Take 12 challenge. The challenge will inspire 12,000 people from the Olympic Host Boroughs to complete either 12 hours of physical activity or cover 12km over a 12 week period.

As part of the challenge, the Barry McGuigan Boxing Academy will run a series of training sessions for almost 1,200 people. Additionally, Total Swimming will give free swimming lessons to more than 1,000 local residents at the ‘Make a Splash’ pop-up pool.

The Challenge got underway today with the McGuigan team leading the first boxing sessions for 100 people at Score Community Centre in Waltham Forest, east London. Whitehead also launched the Make A Splash pool and took a group of residents for a free swimming lesson at the mobile pool which will be in Waltham Forest until 11 April 2013.

Barry McGuigan said:

“The Barry McGuigan Boxing Academy is totally committed and determined to build upon the Olympic legacy to create a sustainable future for all our citizens through sport.  This project encapsulates exactly the underlying ethos of our Academy, which is, to use sport to inspire and motivate people of all ages and to send a clear message that sport is for everyone, so jump on-board towards a healthier, happy life.”

Boris Johnson, Mayor of London and Legacy Corporation Chairman said:

“The formidable Barry McGuigan has laid down the challenge for hundreds of people to get the gloves on, get into the ring and box their way into shape. His Academy, and the Take 12 Challenge, are two great examples of how we hope to turn the inspiration of our 2012 athletes into a lasting legacy for London, making the capital fitter, healthier and happier.”

Adam Whitehead said:

“I’m really pleased to be here today to officially launch the Make a Splash project at the Score Centre. Having this pool here will enable 1,000 local people to learn a valuable life skill through high quality swimming lessons delivered by Total Swimming. I’d like to encourage as many people as possible from Waltham Forest to come down and use the pool while it is here.”

Chris Robbins, Leader of Waltham Forest Council said:

“Here in Waltham Forest we want to build on the inspirational performances of our Olympic and Paralympic athletes to encourage residents to get fitter and healthier. Boxing has strong links to this part of London and I am delighted that Waltham Forest was selected to launch Barry McGuigan’s boxing scheme. It will go a long way towards motivating our residents to get active.

“While we’re investing more than £24million in improving our leisure centres there are also plenty of other ways in which the Council’s ’s Sports Development Team are encouraging local people to try new sports, be more active and provide local people with access to better leisure opportunities. The Make a Splash pool is just one example, and it’s already proven to be a big hit with schoolchildren and adults alike. Now that we’ve made the adult lessons free I hope that even more residents will take up the challenge and try this fun, healthy pastime for themselves.”

Make A Splash is a groundbreaking programme delivered by Total Swimming as part of the Mayor of London’s Sports Legacy Fund, the programme is sponsored by the ASA, British Gas and Thames Water.

In addition to the boxing and swimming lessons, The Take 12 Challenge will give residents suggested routes around the boroughs to help people complete the 12km and help them find local classes and clubs to complete the 12 hours of physical activity. Pilots have already shown that this is an effective of helping people get started and make exercise part of their routine.

The Take 12 Challenge is being run in partnership between the London Legacy Development Corporation and sports charity, Gold Challenge.

Dan Thompson, Chairman and Founder of Gold Challenge said:

“Gold Challenge is delighted to be delivering the Take 12 Challenge as part of the sporting legacy for those living and working closest to the Olympic Park. There are many exciting opportunities in the surrounding boroughs for people to get a bit more active and perhaps try something new.”

Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park is situated in some of the most deprived boroughs in the country. Levels of obesity are higher and life expectancy is lower than London and national averages, as is the amount of physical activity people living closest to the Park do in an average week.

The Legacy Corporation is committed to helping people improve their health and well-being and ensuring that those living closest to the Olympic Park are at least as healthy and active as the rest of London.

In November the Legacy Corporation published its Sport and Healthy Living Policy which sets out clear targets for working with partners to reduce obesity and inactivity and achieve better health outcomes including increasing life expectancy. The full set of targets and detailed policy document is available online.