‘Long-sighted’ investment pays off as Parkour granted sport status

An event with 11 young people marked the reopening of the parkour in Lancing last year
An event with 11 young people marked the reopening of the parkour in Lancing last year

Lancing Parish Council, which part-funded a Parkour facility, is ‘really encouraged’ after the activity is officially recognised as a sport.

Monks Recreation Ground has hosted a ‘very popular’ purpose built Parkour training facility since September 2011.

The UK has become the first country to recognise Parkour/Freerunning as a sport, which means groups will be able to apply to the home country sports councils for lottery or exchequer funding to support the development of the sport locally.

Gloria Eveleigh, Lancing Parish Council chairman, said: “I have personally watched the Parkour lessons in Monks Rec last year and found the several moves that were demonstrated both fascinating and beautiful, as well as improving the strength and fitness of participants.

“I can’t wait for Monks Recreation Ground to maybe host competitions in the future so that we can cheer our many Lancing young people to success and improved fitness.

“Who knows, Parkour could even become an Olympic sport in the future, with future Olympic Champions having started their career here in Monks Rec, Lancing!”

The equipment in Lancing was installed after two young Parkour enthusiasts approached the council for help with funding, having already raised £5,000 of the £20,000 needed for the facility themselves.

Mrs Eveleigh said Lancing Parish Council obtained two grants to go towards the project ‘in response to the enthusiasm of the young lads, and wanting to be trend setters in the area of community fitness.’

At the time, she said, Parkour was ‘a new and upcoming discipline’ which had very few other training sites.

The rest of the funding was provided by Adur District Council and the site was opened in September 2011,

At the opening, Alister O’Loughlin from Urban Playground – a company specialising in Parkour equipment – told the Herald that the park was ‘a great place to learn the fundamentals of Parkour.’

“Parkour is simply about expressing yourself through movement which is safe, efficient and fluid,” he said.

“It’s not a danger sport, and it’s not competitive.

“It’s open to everyone, and the council here is being incredibly long-sighted in providing this free facility for those local people already interested and others who may become interested.”

There are now more than 50 Parkour parks across the UK, according to Parkour UK, which has been made National Governing Body of the sport.

Sebastien Foucan, president of Parkour UK, said: “This is brilliant recognition for a discipline that started off as child’s play with my friends almost 30 years ago.

“The beauty of Parkour/Freerunning is that everyone, of all ages, can do it respectfully in almost any environment.

“We celebrate activity and playfulness whilst constantly challenging our mental and physical limits.

“It is more than just jumping, it is a health driven way of life”

Tracey Crouch, Minister for Sport, who announced that the sport’s new status on Tuesday, January 10, said: “I want people to get out there and find the sport and physical activity that appeals to them and Parkour is certainly a fun, creative and innovative option.

“The sport promotes movement and using the great outdoors as a space to get active in and I encourage people to don their trainers and give it a go.”

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