On Thursday 27th October Seb Coe opened a brand new £8.5million sports centre at St Mary’s University College, Twickenham that will form part of a Pre-Games Training Camp used by athletes from three national Olympic teams in the run up to London 2012.
The London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games (LOCOG) Chair was joined by world renowned athletes including 10,000m world record holder Dave Bedford, double Olympic medallist Rebecca Romero MBE, double Paralympic medallist David Weir and Olympic gold medallist Tim Brabants.
Having previously visited the University College in April, when the sports centre was still under construction, Seb was given a tour of the new facilities, which are now open to members of the public.
About the new sports centre Seb said, “Since visiting St Mary’s in April, when I was walking round what was effectively a building site, the progress that has been made here is astonishing and this really is an extraordinary facility.”
St Mary’s has established itself as one of London’s top-performing sporting institutions, providing a comprehensive sports development programme that focuses on elite performance sport, special events, recreational opportunities, coaching and broader sports development activities.
Major investment in St Mary’s new sports facilities, including £500,000 of National Lottery funding from Sport England, will further support and enhance the University College’s ever growing number of sport and health related academic programmes. Additionally they will facilitate the numerous student, staff and community activities that take place on campus, and be used by athletes from the South African, Irish and Chinese Olympic teams next year.
Sport England’s Director of Property, Charles Johnston, said, “This Lottery investment will ensure we build a lasting legacy beyond next year’s Olympic and Paralympic Games by giving students, staff and the local community the opportunity to enjoy and play sport in this first-class facility.”
Head of St Mary's 2012 Preparations and Sport Strategy Prof Richard Fisher commented, “The new centre has been built alongside the existing sports hall, which has also been refurbished, to create state-of-the-art facilities complementing St Mary’s cutting edge sports science and sport medicine support services.
“Sport plays an important role in the student experience at the University College and the facilities are a key part of delivering this. In turn, it is these facilities and support services which attract professional athletes to train on campus, including the athletes who will be using St Mary’s as their 2012 Pre-Games Training Camp.
“During his athletics career, SebCoe lived in the area and trained at St Mary’s and, now that he is Chair of the London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games, we were delighted that he was able to open the new sports centre.”
At the opening, the University College also unveiled its Hall of Fame for Sport, which recognises outstanding individuals at the highest levels of sport, with St Mary’s alumni Dave Bedford and Rebecca Romero MBE being the first two sports people to be inducted.
Bedford is a former 10,000m world record holder and is now Director for the Virgin London Marathon, which is a partner in St Mary’s highly successful Endurance Performance and Coaching Centre (EPACC), for many years the home of Mo Farah. Double Olympic medallist Romero secured Silver in quadruple sculls in Athens 2004 and a cycling Gold in the individual pursuit in Beijing 2008, and recently announced her retirement from Olympic competition.