By David Hardiman
An athletics club dealing with a post-Olympics surge in interest in pole vaulting says the sport is becoming “very popular”.
Harrow Athletics Club put on a special training session on Saturday at the Bannister Sports Centre in Uxbridge Road after 14 girls turned up to the track last month to try out the discipline after Team GB’s success at London 2012.
More than 150 teenagers turned up to two training evenings run by the club to try other track and field sports after the Olympic Games ended as the borough tries to cement a legacy from the summer’s success.
Director of coaching Brian Hull said that the sessions had gone “very well” and hoped more youngsters would sign up.
He added: “Girl’s pole vaulting is becoming very popular within the sport of athletics – it used to be a men only thing until about 12 years ago but now it’s changed.
“Girls just seem to take to it more than boys which people find amazing because it looks such a heroic thing to do, but they seem to be more excited by the challenge, and some of the girls here have some gymnastics training so they understand it a bit more.
“We already had a talented group, but out of this we’ve now found even more and we’ve got some very talented girls.”
Mr Hull singled out 10-year-old Jade Spencer-Smith as a possible star of the future, with the youngster already beating girls older than her after trying out the sport.
He said: “We don’t usually train girls under 12 or 13, but she’s learned very quickly and she’s become an overnight sensation really – she’s jumping the heights of girls two or three years older than her.”
Other sports have also seen a post-Olympics bounce, with Harrow Council reporting that its swimming pools were used 26,897 times in August – up nearly 6,000 on last year – while leisure centre visits in the borough were up nearly 20,000 on August 2011.
And Harrow School of Gymnastics told the Harrow Times last month that it had a waiting list of 150 youngsters and was having to turn children away from its purpose-built gym behind Harrow Leisure Centre in Christchurch Avenue.
Portfolio holder for cultural services, Councillor David Perry, said that the council was “committed” to creating an Olympic legacy in the borough.
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