It may be more than a year since the Olympic Games in London, but there’s no doubt that enthusiasm for sport remains at fever pitch across the globe.
Many expats will agree that playing sports is a brilliant way to get to know your local community, broaden your network and make friends locally. According to last year’s Expat Explorer report, more than one in four expats (27%) say they are participating in more sporting activities since relocating.
If you’re thinking of taking up a new sport to help you settle in, take a look at our round-up of some of the most inspiring sporting heroes and the role that their home country played in helping them on their way.
Embrace athletics like Jessica Ennis
Since Jessica Ennis won a gold medal for athletics last year, British enthusiasm for athletics has been infectious. With many young children being encouraged to take a foray into the field and have a go at hurdling, long jump and sprinting, the wide variety of activities within athletics means there’s a sport for everyone.
Although UK weather isn’t always conducive to getting out and about, there are many indoor facilities and sports clubs which offer shelter to even the most fair weather or sports players. Most large towns and cities will have local athletics clubs – signing up on your own is a great way to meet new people and doing activities as a group will help you to maintain that willpower…!
Run like the wind – or like Usain Bolt
The Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt is almost an emblem for his country, well-known for their scores of sprinters. With its rural landscape, Jamaica offers plenty of open spaces where runners of all abilities can hone their technique, whether it’s long or short distance. Competitive and track running is a big part of the small island’s culture, with numerous tracks and schools devoted to supporting budding athletes. Children are encouraged from an early age to embrace the sport, keep active and maintain a healthy diet, perhaps explaining the country’s propensity for breeding Olympic stars. But it’s not just for the pros; amateurs can find like-minded running buddies by joining a running club. Alternatively, hit the beach or the gym and see who you can get talking to!
On guard… Ready… Fence! – Elisa Di Francisca
Italy’s prowess for fencing is deeply rooted in the country’s medieval history. The performance of gold medal winner, Elisa Di Francisca at last year’s games goes to show that this tradition remains very much part of Italy’s present. Many often associate fencing with a sense of romance and chivalry, reflecting associations with Italy’s reputation for courtly love – and perhaps part of the reason why expats in Italy choose the country as their new home. With a warm climate and an abundance of green spaces, it’s of little surprise that fencing clubs are becoming increasingly popular in the country.
Dive in à la Lochte
With Ryan Lochte flying the flag for the USA at last year’s games, swimming has since become extremely popular. There are more than 2,800 swimming clubs scattered across the States, with many offering good deals for regular swimmers, as well as particular classes and programmes for those looking for more of a challenge. For those who prefer to escape the chlorine and swim al-fresco, the USA has dozens of beautiful lakes and beaches where you can take a dip - just be sure to take care if you’re swimming solo.