University Boat Race shows the Thames’ potential for physical activity


Huge crowds gathered along the River Thames in London at the weekend to see the 156th Annual Boat Race.

This year, in the battle between Oxford University and Cambridge University, it was the light blues of Cambridge who claimed victory in both the men’s and women’s race.

Millions tuned in to see the outcome live on the BBC while a quarter of a million people lined the famous river to see the result live.

How many people are participating in water sports across the capital?

Following the capital’s biggest event on the river, London Sport have been looking into the recently published Active Lives Data on Londoners’ participation levels in water-based sports.

Despite the ongoing support for The Boat Race, the insight shows that 1.9% of Londoners took part in rowing on open water in the last year, a figure which has dropped from 2.4% back in 2017.

However, the participation levels in Adventure and Water Sports are more positive.

Londoners’ participation levels were recorded as 26.3%, a figure which has grown year-on-year from only 21% back in 2015/16 – this highlights the growing interest in water-based activities in the capital.

With this growth, it is positive to see, and for London Sport to be supporting, the ongoing mission to use the River Thames as a hub for sport and physical activity going forwards.

And leading the calls for more use of the river is triple Olympic gold medallist and 2005 Boat Race winner Andrew Triggs-Hodge who is now working for Tideway – the company building the super sewer under the Thames.

When being interviewed at Sunday’s race Triggs-Hodge said:

“The project will have a massive impact on the river and the transformation in water quality will be immense.

“I feel very lucky to be playing this role and giving back to rowing and making an influence in a positive way.”

Want to get involved in water sports in the capital?

Opportunities to utilise the Thames for physical activity are only growing with the London Regatta arriving in the capital on 29 September.

Don’t miss the chance to take part in the brand-new kayak, canoe, SUP and rowing event that takes place through the heart of London. Find out more here.

And you can have your say on how to improve the access of sports on the Thames.

The Port of London Authority (PLA) is working with stakeholders to promote greater participation in sports on the Thames. To find out more, contact nadine.collins-smith@pla.org.uk


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