Elite athletes continue to inspire: study

Olympic and Paralympic athletes continue to be an inspiration for other Australians.
Olympic and Paralympic athletes continue to be an inspiration for other Australians.

More than half of all Australians aged 15 or over have participated in some form of Olympic sport in the past year with 1.8 million people also volunteering at local clubs or sporting organisations.

Sport Australia's latest AusPlay report identifies physical activity habits across the country, while its Community Perceptions Monitor captures public attitudes towards sport.

The research also reveals that four in five Australians aged 18 and over feel pride for our Olympic, Paralympic and Commonwealth Games athletes and teams.

Seven in 10 say they can be inspired by their achievements.

Minister for Sport Richard Colbeck says as momentum builds ahead of the Tokyo Olympics, it's clear Australians continue to take inspiration from high performance athletes.

"The AusPlay report shows just how much sport remains a linchpin in the lives of everyday Australians," he said in statement issued on Sunday.

"Whether we are aiming to improve our own health and wellbeing or are determined to ensure others have that opportunity - sport is key to healthy communities across the nation."

The research shows athletics, swimming and cycling are the most popular Olympic sports with just over seven million Australians running, jumping, throwing, swimming or cycling every year.

Athletics, including running and jogging, is the most popular sport for men while swimming tops the list for women.

Soccer and basketball are the most popular Olympic team sports.

More men participate in shooting, rugby union and mountain biking while equestrian, gymnastics and softball attract more female participants.

Around four in five adults with long-term disability also participate in some kind of sport or physical activity at least once a year.

The top three Paralympic sports are the same as Olympic sports with swimming the most popular, followed by cycling and athletics.

More than 3.5 million children participate in an organised sport or physical activity outside of school hours with 2.9 million playing an Olympic sport, with swimming the most popular.

Australian Associated Press