Ipswich: Olympics credited for huge uptake at Pipers Vale Gymnastics Club

Legacy of the Games lives on

The Olympic legacy is alive and kicking at one Ipswich gymnastics club – which has seen numbers rocket thanks to the 2012 effect.

According to Andy Wood, head coach at Pipers Vale Gymnastics Club, the surge in participation following on from the Games in London has left the centre enjoying the busiest period in its history.

There are 24 classes in total and each of them are now filled to capacity, with long waiting lists forming. There are around 1,100 people of all ages and abilities on their books – the most since the facility opened in 1999.

Mr Wood said: “We used to have about 20 people in each class but now there are now 30 in every class and we have an eight-page waiting list.

“What we have to do now is make sure the service we deliver is up to standard.

“They are not all going to be at the top level but if they are enjoying it, that is the main thing. If it keeps them in sport, then the Olympics has done its job and inspired a generation.

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“When I joined in 2001, there were 350 children doing gymnastics here. We built that to over 1,000 and it has been maintained at about 800. It is now up to 1,100 – the busiest it has ever been.”

The centre in Brazier’s Wood Road hosted some of the Brazilian gymnastics team in preparation for their Games campaign.

Around 2,000 primary school children watched the team train during their ten-day stay, and were also given the opportunity to practise with the reserves and get tips from their coach.

Tomorrow Mr Wood is heading to Brazil where he will be meeting members of the Olympic Committee and discussing how the legacy can be maintained in preparation for Rio 2016.

“We want to maintain that friendship we had with the Brazilians and encourage them to use us again and again, like for the World Championships in Glasgow in 2015,” he said.

“For me, just being involved in the Olympic Games was something special. Now this is a massive bonus.

“It is part of the legacy and has proven that the Olympic Games has done what it set out to do.”