Olympians help launch World Fit 2016 with ‘Walk to Rio’

19 | 4 | 2016

British and U.S. Olympians will join 11,500 school children to launch World Fit 2016 by taking part in a ‘Walk to Rio’ as part of a campaign to get young people active. This is the first year the World Fit initiative has been trialled outside of the United States with the WOA and the British Olympians Association working in partnership to facilitate the programme’s expansion.  

World Fit is a charity founded by U.S. Olympians in 2009 with the aim of reducing obesity through active lifestyles by using walking as a catalyst for cultural change. The primary target of the campaign is young people but family members, teachers and the entire community are also encouraged to participate.

Since the first World Fit Walk in 2009, 108,813 students from 103 different schools across America have logged in a total of 9,184,210 miles.

The inaugural World Fit ‘Walk to Rio’ in the UK will take place in the lead up to the Rio 2016 Olympic Games from 18 April to 27 May with 3000 British children from 35 schools in Coventry and Manchester taking up the challenge for the first time and joining their American counterparts in a series of themed walks encouraging healthy lifestyles and active living. If the UK trial proves successful the WOA hopes to roll out the programme worldwide.

Olympians play a crucial role in the programme by supporting the launch of the walks, motivating the participants through school visits and by joining in celebration events at the end of the six weeks. As part of the programme the children log their daily activity online which converts into points. The online system then generates individual and group league tables to encourage healthy competition.

Some of the Olympians taking part in the ‘Walk to Rio’ initiative include:

  • Dave Long (Great Britain, Athletics) - Seoul 1988 & Barcelona 1992
  • Dave Moorcroft (Great Britain, Athletics) - Montreal 1976, Moscow 1980 & Los Angeles 1984
  • Sheila Carey (Great Britain, Athletics) - Mexico City 1968 & Munich 1972
  • Bill Adcocks (Great Britain, Athletics) - Mexico City 1968
  • Jo Deakins (Great Britain, Swimming) - Barcelona 1992 & Atlanta 1996
  • Diane Modahl (Great Britain, Athletics) - Seoul 1988, Barcelona 1992 & Atlanta 1996
  • Rowena Birch (Great Britain, Judo) - Atlanta 1996
  • Rebekah Wilson (Great Britain, Bobsleigh) Sochi 2014
  • Passion Richardson – (United States, Athletics) - Sydney 2000
  • Micki King – (United States,Diving) - Mexico 1968 and Munich 1972 Gold
  • Sammy Walker – (United States, Weightlifting) - 1976 Montreal
  • John McNally – (United States, Shooting) - LA 1984, Seoul 1988, Barcelona 1992, Atlanta 1996, & Sydney 2000
  • Janine Bowman – (United States, Shooting) - Sydney 2000

Speaking about the launch of the initiative in the UK, Gary Hall Snr, three-time Olympic Medallist in Swimming and World Fit founder, said:

“The World Fit mission is to eradicate childhood obesity and improve children’s health and attitude towards fitness and we’re delighted to launch our new programme in the UK. We’re also very thankful to our Olympian and Paralympian mentors who act as fantastic role models and assist in instilling Olympic values such as perseverance, respect and fair play into the lives of the students.”

“We are grateful for the support of both the WOA and the GB Olympians for adopting the World Fit ethos so willingly and helping to expand it beyond the United States.

World Olympians Association President, Joël Bouzou, said:

“World Fit is a fantastic initiative based on promoting active and healthy lifestyles among young people and I’m delighted Olympians are playing an important role by motivating the school communities to be active.

“Olympians are the embodiment of the Olympic values and the WOA will always work tirelessly to channel the unique status that being an Olympian brings into communities around the world, which is why we are thrilled to be expanding this important initiative.”

Joslyn Hoyte-Smith, President of the British Olympians Association, said:

“World Fit 2016 is all about the young participants and it was great to see so many British Olympians taking part in the launch today and to see so many excited and enthusiastic faces. It’s vital that we encourage active and healthy lifestyles from a young age and this is a fun and engaging way to do it. I’m delighted that we, as Olympians, have the opportunity to help the next generation and hopefully inspire them to get out and get active and participate in sport.”