Ipswich: Gymnastic coach who welcomed Olympians to Pipers Vale said Games will inspire a generation

THE head coach of one of the county’s leading gymnastics centres says the legacy of London 2012 will inspire a generation of young stars.

Andy Wood, from the Piper’s Vale Gymnastics Club in Ipswich, said the Olympics will help boost the profile of the sport.

Last month, the centre, in Brazier’s Wood Road, hosted the Brazilian gymnastics team in preparation for their Games campaign.

Mr Wood said around 2,000 primary school children watched the team train during their ten-day stay, while club members were also given the opportunity to practice with the Brazilian reserves and take tips from their coach.

“The London Olympics have opened up many more doors than we could have ever imagined,” Mr Wood said.

“We were hoping that by watching, it would inspire other children to take part. They were so excited, getting autographs and everything.”

In preparation for the visit, Suffolk County Council donated �4,000 to the centre, while the borough council provided a grant of �3,000.

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The funds enabled the gym to replace mats, re-surface the competition floor and organise the schools programme.

“The facilities will be valued and used for years to come, and we can now offer discounted lessons to people wanting to try gymnastics for the first time,” said Mr Wood.

The club also negotiated a reciprocal agreement with Brazil, the host nation for the Olympic Games in Rio De Janeiro in 2016.

“We’ve been very lucky and were invited out to a competition in Rio in October this year,” Mr Wood said.

Four gymnasts from Ipswich and one from Cambridgeshire will be making the trip, and the club is currently trying to raise the necessary funds.

Mr Wood says they are also using the trip as a chance to talk with the Brazilian Olympic Committee about an exchange programme for local gymnasts over the next four years.

“The motto of the games is to inspire a nation and for me being so involved, from having the Brazilians here, I’m hoping that it will inspire children to take part in something – dancing, judo, gymnastics, anything,” he said.