Published: Thursday, 15th February 2018

Sports stars past and present turned out to celebrate the opening.

The new Sutcliffe Park Sports Centre was officially opened by Cllr Denise Hyland, Leader of the Royal Borough of Greenwich on Saturday 10 February.

Asset to all local people

The Leader was joined by sporting legends Zoe Smith and Tosin Oke alongside past Olympians and Commonwealth games medallists as well as local MP Clive Efford. They were joined by hundreds of residents and local families who enjoyed free taster sessions on the Sports Centre's state of the art facilities.

Cllr Hyland said: "This is a magnificent building which will be an asset to every level of local sportsmen and sportswomen. From the skateboarder to the sprinter, from local schoolchildren to our oldest residents, from ordinary people looking to get a bit fitter to top athletes competing at the international level."

Professional athletes impressed

Tosin Oke is a track and field athlete who has competed at the highest level in the triple jump for both Great Britain and Nigeria. Tosin began his career with the Cambridge Harriers, who train at Sutcliffe Park. The Harriers have long used the outdoor running track and will continue their association with the new sports centre and refurbished outdoor track.

Tosin said: "It's a fantastic facility for athletes and there is everything you need here to train at the highest level. I think this sports centre will help the next generation of professional athletes to come through."

Zoe Smith is the only English female weightlifter ever to have won medals at the Commonwealth Games and will take part in her third Commonwealth Games in April, despite only being 23 years old. It was Zoe's first visit to the new sports centre.

She said: "I had heard good things about it before I came but I am genuinely surprised at how good it is. There really is something for everyone."

Local residents given a taster

Local residents were able to try their talents in the custom built BMX/skatepark, the 'Clip and Climb' wall and, for the very young ones, the Soft Play area.

Younger residents competed for medal glory in tri-athlete events on the indoor 60 metre sprint track, long jump and netted throwing cage.

The provision of the new indoor facilities means residents and athletes can engage in a host of sporting activities in all types of weather, encouraging a year-round commitment to active and healthy lifestyles.

Continuing our Olympic and Paralympic legacy

Councillor Danny Thorpe, Deputy Leader, Cabinet Member for Regeneration and Sustainability, said: "Sutcliffe Park Sports Centre represents a major investment by the Council in sports and leisure facilities, particularly for the south of borough. This commitment to sports provision is a key plank of our regeneration and priority programme."

All activities and facilities at the new centre are available for people with disabilities, something that the Royal Borough committed to as part of its Olympic and Paralympic legacy.

Top athletes came to celebrate

Councillor Denise Scott-McDonald, Cabinet Member for Culture, Creative Industries and Community Well-Being, said: "It was great to see so many top athletes come to help us celebrate the official opening from Tosin and Zoe to senior athletes like previous 400 metre world record holder Marilyn Neufville.

"We hope this brilliant new facility will inspire the next generation of Commonwealth, Olympic and Paralympic stars in Royal Greenwich."

Among the greats that have trained and competed at Sutcliffe Park and came down for the official opening were Olympians and Commonwealth games medallists, including Joan Allison, Helen Daniel, Angela Littlewood, Glynis and Keith Penny, Scott and Julie Rider and Myrtle Augee.

'Encourage people to get involved in sports'

The London Marathon Charitable Trust (LMCT) has provided support for the Sports Centre. John Austin, Trustee from LMCT, attended the opening ceremony and said: "The essence of the marathon spirit is that it should be for the people. We need to support elite athletes but also encourage ordinary people to be active. The best way to do that is working with partners like the Royal Borough of Greenwich to encourage people to get involved in sporting activity."

Designed to work with its natural surroundings

Sutcliffe Park has a nature reserve which is rich in wildlife. The Friends of Sutcliffe Park were consulted on the new building, which is designed to work with its surroundings and add to the environment. This includes bio diverse roof, landscaping and planting new shrubs and trees to complement the ecological biodiversity of the park. Hedging screens the car park and a new pond has been created on the north side of the building to assist with controlling potential flood risk.

The Sports Centre is operated by Better on behalf of Royal Greenwich.

Find out more about Sutcliffe Park Sports Centre on the Better website