Shoppers wait outside a branch of Sports Direct in Brighton southern England

Sports Direct International, Britain's biggest sporting goods retailer, posted a 17 percent rise in first half profits thanks to a big lift from sales linked to the London Olympic Games.

Group sales for the 26 weeks ending on 28 October rose by more than 22 percent ot £1.088bn ($1.6bn/€1.2bn), the company said in a statement published Thursday, taking underlying first half earnings to £163.2m from £139.2m in the same period last year. The figure translate to an earnings per share of around 16.05 pence on an ongoing basis. The company said it would not be paying a first half dividend but remains confident it will meet its stated full-year target of underlying earnings of £270m.

"The first half has been another record period for Sports Direct with the London 2012 Olympics and Paralympics playing a significant part in the Group's strong results," CEO Dave Forsey said in the statement. "There is no doubt that Team GB's outstanding performance has helped increase the awareness and popularity of sport across the UK, and that we have maintained our position as the consumers' champion."

Online sales grew by around 54 percent, the company said, and now represent around 12.5 percent of total group revenue.

Sports Direct International shares rose 1.31percent in London Wednesday to close at 409.3 pence each. The shares have nearly doubled in value since the beginning of the year, rising 92 percent.