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Reading Football Club, an association football club nicknamed The Royals, has played in Reading since 1871. Formerly based at Elm Park, the club has played in the 24,500 capacity Madejski Stadium home since 1998. Reading are participating in their second season in the elite Premier League in the 2007-08 season, having won the 2005-06 Football League Championship with a record breaking 106 points and 99 goals scored. The Town's second team, Reading Town play in the Combined Counties Football League Premier Division.

Reading is a centre for rugby union football in the area, with the Guinness Premiership team London Irish as tenants at the Madejski Stadium. Reading is also home to another three senior semi-professional rugby clubs; Reading R.F.C., Redingensians R.F.C. and Reading Abbey R.F.C.. The town plays host to a number of other football variants, such as Gaelic football's St. Anthony's GAA, Australian rules football team Reading Kangaroos, and American football team Reading Renegades. The sport of field hockey is represented by Reading Hockey Club.

The Reading Half Marathon is held on the streets of Reading in March of each year, with as many as 13,000 competitors from elite to fun runners.

The Reading Rockets, are a basketball club that play in the English Basketball League. The Rockets were formed in 1997 by the owner Gary Johnson. The Rockets won the National Cup, and reached EBL Championship Final in 2005, and were League runners-up and Cup Finalists in 2006. In 2007 they won the National Trophy and were league runners-up again. They are thus already firmly established among the elite teams of the EBL.

Like many Thames-side towns, Reading has several rowing clubs, representing both town and university. The local Redgrave-Pinsent Rowing Lake provides training facilities, although much rowing is also conducted on the river itself. Dorney Lake, some 27 km (17 miles) to the east of Reading, provides a full international competition venue and will host the rowing events of the 2012 Summer Olympics. There are also several sailing lakes to the south and southwest of the town, the largest being Theale Lake close to junction 12 of the M4. These lakes are also popular with water-skiing and jet-skiing enthusiasts.

From 1984 to 1994, The Hexagon theatre was home to snooker's Grand Prix tournament, one of the sport's 'big four' Grand Slam events.

Britain's first-ever triathlon was held just outside Reading at Kirtons's Farm in Pingewood in June 1983. The Reading International Triathlon was revived by Banana Leisure in 1994 and 1995. Thames Valley Triathletes, based in the town, is Britain's oldest triathlon club, with origins in the 1984 event at nearby Heckfield. The British Triathlon Association was also formed in the town in 1982.

Reading's Palmer Park was also the host of the UK's first-ever outdoor Aerobics display; pre-dating the more famous Hyde Park (London) event by a year.

Reading is also in the history books of motorsport. Reading-born Richard Burns became the first Englishman to win the World Rally Championship, in 2001.

The town is also home to Reading Greyhound Racing and the Reading Racers speedway team, and there is a velodrome at Palmer Park where many of Britain's junior champions train and race.

The town is home to the Reading Racers speedway team. The sport came to Reading in 1968 at Tilehurst Stadium but this closed and the site was redeveloped. The team took a year off whilst the current venue was built. This venue is also due to close at the end of 2008 and another year off is anticipated as another new venue is built. The history of Reading Racer has been set out in a book by Arnie Gibbons. Reading's best known literary connection is with Oscar Wilde, who was imprisoned in Reading Gaol from 1895 to 1897. While he was there he wrote De Profundis, which was published in 1905. After his release he lived in exile in France and wrote The Ballad of Reading Gaol, based on his experience of an execution carried out in Reading Gaol whilst he was imprisoned there. This was first published in 1898 under the pseudonym C.3.3, Wilde's erstwhile cell number.

 
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