Cotswold seniors want a sporting chance following the London 2012 Olympics

Wilts and Gloucestershire Standard: Julie Warren Julie Warren

WHERE is the Olympic legacy for seniors?

That was the question posed by one Standard reader, who was inspired to try out a new sport but had no idea where to start.

Julie Warren, from Fairford, said that while there were plenty of opportunities for youngsters to take part in ‘taster sessions’ following on from the London Olympics, there seemed to be little advertised for the older generation.

She said marathon running and gymnastics were out of her reach, but she would love to try archery or shooting.

"I do want to stay active, as I am sure a lot of retired people do but often the cost is prohibitive, so what's out there for us?" Julie said.

Age UK Gloucestershire’s chief executive, Christina Snell, said older people had been neglected in both funding and focus for continuing the Olympic legacy.

"There was a sense that the Olympics was supposed to be for everybody and I don’t particularly see evidence of that," she said.

"A lot of the legacy talk was focused on young people, which in some respects you can understand, but there are plenty of older people engaged in very active sports."

She added: "As a charity there’s not a lot of funding available for older people to get into sport."

Cotswold District Council’s Jamie Nesbitt said there were plenty of sports opportunities in the district for older people but they took a bit of searching for.

He said CDC’s website and office could be used as a signpost to discover clubs and facilities nearby.

He added that Cotswold Leisure in Cirencester had a 50 plus group, which runs on Friday mornings, with exercise classes, badminton, table tennis, short tennis and swimming.

"This is perfect for people to come along to if they don’t have anyone to play a sport with, or if they want to try something new," Jamie said.

Elsewhere in the Cotswolds, several clubs hold beginner courses and trial days for people of all ages.

The Buscot Park Archers, based at Faringdon, are hosting a free ‘have a go’ day for people aged eight years and up on April 20.

Member Adam Abbott, 84, said age or disability was not a barrier when it came to the sport.

"I started when I was in my early 50s, but we’ve had other people much older than that coming along and joining," he said.

The club’s secretary Peter Wright said that since the Olympics they had seen numbers shoot up, with people of all ages showing an interest.

"We’ve had to put on three more extra classes over the winter," he said. "But it’s not only the Olympics that’s given us a bit of a surge, each Lord of the Rings film has got people thinking they want to try it too."

Nearby at Coln Park lake in Lechlade, the Bowmoor Sailing Club also attracts a large number of older men and women.

Member and optimist flotilla leader John Banbrook said: "The club offers opportunities to all age groups and we've got a lot of guys in their 60s and 70s who race at a very high standard."

He added that the club regularly held free taster sessions, with the next one on April 13 from 10am.

In Fairford, a table tennis group was started after the Olympics by the town’s University of the Third Age (U3A) club.

Fairford and district U3A member Nick Stroude said: "We’ve had a good turnout for it. It’s relatively gentle exercise but it gets your reactions going."

The club, which is aimed at retired people, costs £10 for one year’s membership. Table tennis sessions for members cost around £1 each and are held every Wednesday at Fairford Community Centre.

Find out more at buscotparkarchers.org.uk, bowmoor.co.uk and at fairfordu3a.org.uk

Discover other local sports opportunities at cotswold.gov.uk

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