Sport England: Women playing sport in England hits all-time high, but people from poorer backgrounds missing out

 
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Ellie Simmonds
Women playing sport in England has reached an all-time high (Source: Getty)

More women in England are playing sport than ever before, new research from Sport England shows.

An all-time high of 7.21m women played sport regularly in the year to 30 September, nearly half of the total 15.97m — a 229,000 increase on last year and 1.88m more people than when London won the right to host the 2012 Olympics in 2005.

Swimming is the most popular sport in the country for people aged 16 and over with 2.52m taking part at least once a week, followed by football, athletics, cycling and golf.

Despite success from its Olympic representatives at the Rio Games, athletics and cycling both saw drops in participation figures of 108,400 and 85,200 respectively.

"Both sports remain popular with people in midlife, but are attracting and retaining fewer young people under 25," read the Sport England report.

Just 26 per cent of from lower socio economic groups play sport once a week, a much lower proportion than the 39.5 per cent from more affluent groups.

"It’s not acceptable that if you earn less or have a disability you are so much less likely to play sport or be active," said Sport England's chief executive Jennie Price.

"We need better insight, more targeted funding and a wider range of partners to help us make a difference to these groups."

Just over 7m people go to the gym at least once a week, but this is not considered a sport by the survey.

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