Olympic Gold medallist Saskia Clark opens Royal Hospital School’s new £1.1m sports facilities

Royal Hospital School year seven sailors with Saskia Clark. Image: Rachel Reeve

Royal Hospital School year seven sailors with Saskia Clark. Image: Rachel Reeve - Credit: Archant

An Olympic gold medallist from Essex opened the Royal Hospital School’s new £1.1million sports facilities in Suffolk yesterday.

Star sailor Saskia Clark, from West Mersea, received a gold medal at the Rio Olympics last month alongside her partner Hannah Mills.

Now the sportswoman, who was given a hero’s welcome when she returned to Mersea Island a few weeks ago, has opened the Royal Hospital School’s brand new sports facilities – and even gave students some sailing tips at Alton Water.

The school’s director of sport Paul Hardman said both staff and students were “delighted” to welcome the Olympic gold medallist to officially open the facilities – which include a refurbished sports hall, new indoor cricket nets, and a strength and conditioning room.

A new fitness suite, martial arts and dance studio and an indoor climbing wall have also been added.

He said: “This fantastic new development provides superb facilities for a wide range of abilities, a first-class environment to develop high level sporting potential and access to variety of sports from martial arts to climbing and yoga to basketball.”

Unveiling a plaque to commemorate the occasion, Saskia spoke to the 750 pupils and 200 staff about her Olympic experiences, the importance of a healthy body and mind and having the determination and commitment to get to the top.

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Sailing scholars had the opportunity to ask questions, which ranged from nutrition advice to technical tips – and even got the chance to try on her gold medal.

She also visited the school’s youngest sailors at Alton Water, who were taking part in the traditional year seven sailing week.

There, youngsters learn the basics of the sport and work towards their RYA Level 2 qualification.

Director of sailing Andy Nutton said: “It was wonderful that Saskia took the time to come and see our youngest sailors on the water providing some words of wisdom and inspiration.

“While neighbouring Alton Water Reservoir is the natural home for RHS sailors, the team squads and those competing in national and international fleets and following the Olympic pathway will be using the new indoor sports facilities for strength and conditioning, fitness and yoga on a regular basis.”