The prospect of unearthing the next Beth Tweddle or Louis Smith in the Haverhill area received a massive boost after Samuel Ward Academy secured £150,000 towards a new gymnastics centre.
The Olympic legacy funding has been awarded from Sport England’s Inspired Facilities fund, part of the £150 million Places People Play programme.
In partnership with Haverhill Gymnastics Club, Samuel Ward Sports Leadership Academy will receive the windfall to help build a stand-alone dedicated centre at the Academy in Chalkstone Way.
Haverhill Gymnastics Club chairman Kevin Woolcott said: “We are delighted to have secured this investment. Post London 2012 our gymnasts could speak of little else.
“Providing this new facility for them will help to build on their dreams and aspirations, in line with the professionalism and dedication of our coaches.
“It is the cornerstone of our strategy to have an outstanding facility for the 2012 Olympics legacy.”
Samuel Ward Academy principal Howard Lay said: “This is fantastic news and will allow us to work in partnership with a highly successful local gymnastics club to ensure that the Olympic legacy is made real.”
The gymnastics club has provided sessions to hundreds of young people since it opened a few years ago.
The new facility will allow many hundreds more currently on a waiting list to gain access to the sport, which rose in profile after the London Olympics medal haul achieved by the likes of Louis Smith and Beth Tweddle.
The project will deliver a fully equipped Olympic-standard gymnastics centre including foam pits and trampolines, providing the opportunity for its young stars to develop and offer grass roots access to many more.
It will also serve the academy during school hours, including the consortium of eight primary schools involved in the academy’s leadership development programme.
News of the funding has also been greeted with joy by Haverhill county councillor and Mayor of St Edmundsbury, Tim Marks.
He said: “The new facility will reduce the huge waiting list at existing facilities.
“The Olympic Games last summer has seen a resurgence of interest in sport and this initiative will go a log way to encouraging youth in the town to become involved in sporting activities.
“It is hoped that the remaining funds may be raised from local charity funds, businesses and charity events or even personal donations.”
MP Matthew Hancock added: “This money is an investment in young people of Haverhill for today and for the future. We’ll see top class gymnasts training in top class facilities.