Explore London

Let the Olympics begin (for the average Londoner)

On Rio’s reputation for brilliant colours extending even to its diving pool, momentarily a tropical green. But we, the spectators, have the most to think about. We’ve been inspired to try something new, away from our current hobby or the armchair from which we’ve witnessed sporting excellence. Here at UnderTheDoormat we’ve looked at a selection of Olympic sports to see where we can try them in London.


From Robin Hood to Danielle Brown (GB’s double gold-winning Paralympian) archery is an ancient art that has never lost its allure. It often takes place in parks and forests, but London still has its fair share. In the centre you can find London Archers (Kensington and Pimlico) and further south there is Southfields Archery Club, both holding regular shoots.


Enchanted by Mo Farah’s success, or simply want to renew your New Year’s resolutions? There are plenty of spots to go jogging, with the Thames in particular having an uninterrupted towpath stretching 40 miles between Greenwich and Richmond. For shorter stretches it might be worth joining an athletics club: Southwark is host to the London City Athletic Club, while West 4 Harriers is based in Chiswick, providing a variety of types of social running.


The sport has grown in recent years, with a recognition that it can take place in virtually any body of water, from rivers to rapids. In East London the Tower Hamlets Canoe Club provide sessions every Tuesday open to beginners, as well as canoe polo and sea kayaking. To the West there is the Hammersmith Bladesclub by Hammersmith Bridge, offering activities ranging from basic paddling to trips to weirs upstream on the Thames.


In no other sport has Britain dominated more than cycling – across the Beijing, London and now Rio games. If you fancy emulating the country’s success, there’s no need to travel to the National Cycling Centre in Manchester. London is home to a large number of cycling clubs offering both road and track sessions. British Cycling have a map of their affiliated clubs in London, or if you’re looking to have a go on your own then the Lee Valley VeloPark offers an Olympic-standard circuit.


If you fancy taking to the high seas then the capital has a great selection of sailing clubs. The Thames further upstream has a large concentration, such as the South Bank Sailing Club in Putney and London Corinthian SC in Hammersmith. They provide a relaxed and sociable environment in which to learn for the first time, away from the rougher waters of the open ocean.

Table tennis

While not a traditional British strength, table tennis enjoys immense popularity as an adaptable sport that can be played almost anywhere. If you’re after something exclusive then have a look at Table Tennis Fight Club – where entry is granted only by being recommended by another member, or by beating two current members; they also hold open training sessions. An alternative to all levels – from beginner to pro – is Fusion Table Tennis Club in Bermondsey.