Gymnasts' dreams become reality

A DREAM has finally become reality at the Ipswich Gymnastics Centre where a £700,000 extension to their Olympic standard facilities is today open for business.

A DREAM has finally become reality at the Ipswich Gymnastics Centre where a £700,000 extension to their Olympic standard facilities is today open for business.

As well as ensuring it can meet the huge demand for places, the extension to the centre - based next to Gainsborough Sport Centre in Braziers Wood Road - will also emphasise Ipswich's importance to the 2012 London Olympics.

Presently, there are 2,000 gymnasts using the hi-tech equipment every week and this number is set to rise as the centre firmly establishes itself as one of the premier facilities in Britain.

Andy Wood, head coach of the Piper's Vale club which is based at the centre, described the opening of the centre as fantastic.

“This was very much needed to cope with the demand that we have here,” he said.

“We had to do something to enable the kids to achieve here.

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“This will mean we can become an accredited centre and that could see us being used as a facility for training purposes during the Olympics. We could even get one of the big countries such as the USA training here which would be great.”

Schools in Ipswich will also benefit from the expansion. A development plan has been created with a mandate of involving school children in the gymnastics at the centre.

The centre was opened in November 1999 and is regularly used for elite international competitions.

In the past when such competitions have taken place classes have been postponed to make way, but with a dividing shutter between the extension and the main centre, this problem has been addressed.

The development will also provide a base for other activities including netball, martial arts, yoga and pilates, while special needs groups will be accommodated too.

John Hodgson, chairman of the board at the centre echoed Mr Wood's delight at finally seeing the work completed.

He said: “This has taken a great deal of effort.

“It's a dream come true. It really is the icing on the cake.

“It will mean we can continue holding competitions and the gym clubs at the same time.”

Will you benefit from the centre? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

WHERE THE MONEY HAS COME FROM

£517,500 - Active England (a branch of the lottery).

£125,000 - Bellway Homes.

£21,000 - Suffolk County Council regeneration grant.

£5,000 - Suffolk Coastal District Council.

£20,000 - Gymnastics in Ipswich.

£8,000 - County councillors' locality budget.

£25,000 - Interest free loan from the Foundation for Sports and the Arts.

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