You might be surprised about who’s inspiring Brits to get involved in sport. New study reveals it’s not just those performing on the pitch that are inspiring us to put on some trainers and kick a ball. On the contrary, social media stars, commentators and retired athletes are keeping us active. 

Jessica Ennis Hill

Jessica Ennis Hill

While current athletes like Jamie Vardy and Sam Warbuton do well on the list, they’re closely followed by a mix of former athletes, like Dame Jessica Ennis, and major YouTube influencers including Copa 90 and fitness coach Joe Wicks.

With a focus on fitness and healthier lifestyles, the list demonstrates a huge range of people influencing us to get active.

There are signs that women’s sport is becoming more influential in the UK. The fact that only 15% of the top 20 is comprised of women might on first glance appear to reinforce traditional gender imbalances in sport. Women represent 20% of the top 10 and 250 most influential people in UK sport - when viewed in context of the scale of men’s sport and how established it is, this figure can be seen as evidence that the influence of women upon UK sport is growing.

The research employed a unique analysis tool to identify the 250 biggest names in UK sport and examine each person’s online influence through social media platforms like Twitter, offline influence such as appearances in books, newspapers and on TV and their personal ‘brand value’ based upon their current level of public interest, recent scandals and any charity initiatives that they are involved in.

Sports agency Exposure has identified the top 20 influential people in UK sport getting people into fitness and healthier lifestyles. 

Tied at number 1 are Jamie Vardy and rugby player Sam Warburton, while swimmer Adam Peaty completes the top 3.

Leading the female list is Dame Jessica Ennis and Katherine Grainger the Chair of UK Sport. When it comes to influence in women’s sport – established names still hold the greatest influence.

1.     Dame Jessica Ennis, Athletics commentator 2.     Dame Katherine Grainger, Chair, UK Sport 3.     Baroness Grey-Thompson, Member of the House of Lords, Politics 4.     Steph Houghton, Football 5.     Charlotte Dujardin, Dressage         6.     Nicola Adams, Boxing 7.     Clare Balding, Channel 4 Sports Presenter 8.     Jazmin Carlin, Swimming  9.     Eleanor Robinson, Swimming 10.   Liz Nicholl, Head of UK Sport

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