Olympic star cuts ribbon at Gosport Leisure Centre

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THE spirit of the Olympics will live on in Gosport, its mayor has said, after the town’ new leisure centre was officially opened on Saturday.

Cutting the ribbon was hurdles record holder and Olympic silver medallist Colin Jackson, who also had a go on some of the centre’s gym equipment while he was there.

IT'S OPEN! Colin Jackson, centre, with The Mayor of Gosport, Cllr. Richard Dickson, left, and general manager of Gosport Leisure Centre Stuart Urquhart. Picture: Sarah Standing (13951-7371)

IT'S OPEN! Colin Jackson, centre, with The Mayor of Gosport, Cllr. Richard Dickson, left, and general manager of Gosport Leisure Centre Stuart Urquhart. Picture: Sarah Standing (13951-7371)

Gosport Mayor Richard Dickson said having Colin open the facility meant it would be forever be associated with the athlete.

He added: ‘It’s been a great honour to have someone of Colin’s stature to support us here – he’s a legend.’

The star praised the quality of the building, which has replaced the old Holbrook Recreation Centre. He said: ‘As I was driving down here I suddenly saw this shiny new building and I couldn’t stop smiling. This is what we need, it’s fantastic.’

Gosport Borough Council faced opposition from some local residents over the closure of the old facility before the new one opened – leaving 44 staff without jobs and the Gosport Dolphins swimming club with no base to train.

But schools and other leisure centres in the area stepped in and now the Dolphins have a new pool to call home.

Colin added: ‘Having facilities like this is so important, because this is where our athletes begin their training, this is where it all starts.’

The new leisure centre opened its doors to the public on December 31, after the gauntlet was laid down by the council to have it open in the Olympic year.

So far it has proved hugely popular, and is on target to have between 500,000 and 600,000 people through its doors by the end of the year.

The old centre had between 120,000 to 125,000.

Work still to be done on the £7.3m development includes finishing a hotel and pub next to the site.