It hardly seems like four years ago when we were all gripped with Olympic fever. I’m sure many of you can remember not just the sporting action, but also the tremendous build-up which saw Swindon feature in the awesome 2012 Torch Relay.
The action, showcasing local and national heroes, certainly captured the imaginations of residents and I’m sure Rio, although more distant, will also make compulsive viewing.
I am delighted that swimmer Jazz Carlin was one of our first medal winners over the weekend, when she received silver for the 400m. As many of you will know, Jazz cut her teeth with Swindon Tigersharks and used to train at the Link Centre pool.
Of course, exercise and sport are not just for elite athletes – we can all experience the huge pleasure and many benefits of being more active. Besides being great fun, regular physical activity helps ward off numerous health issues like obesity, type two diabetes and heart conditions to name just a few. In addition, there’s ample evidence to show it can help us be more productive at work and even boost exam performance.
In Swindon, we’re extremely lucky to have such a vibrant array of free and accessible sporting opportunities. Every Saturday hundreds of runners of all abilities descend on Lydiard Park to take part in the volunteer-led Parkrun. This summer on Sundays, residents can their pick of a fantastic range of bike rides with distances ranging from 6 to 20 miles which take in the beautiful rolling countryside as well as hidden urban beauty spots. Book online at www.goskyride.com/swindon
For those who prefer a brisk walk, there are now 15 walking groups across the Borough, run by volunteer walk leaders, giving people of all ages, abilities and walks of life the chance to stretch their legs and socialise together. The Haydon Health Walk, which can often be seen pounding the streets near where I live, is particularly popular and attracts on occasions more than 100 participants.
Similarly, there is no shortage of leisure and gym facilities. One thing you won’t hear about here are council plans to close sports centres. That’s because we took the necessary decision to transfer these venues to a not-for-profit company, so they could continue to operate and deliver a whole host of popular facilities and activities. Stratton St Margaret Parish Council also successfully runs its own well-equipped gym as part of its thriving Grange Drive Centre.
So I encourage everyone to be inspired by the epic physical feats of Rio and try something new right here in Swindon, where you really are spoilt for sporting choice.