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Olympic star launches Yarmouth facility

PUBLISHED: 09:18 26 November 2009 | UPDATED: 15:44 03 July 2010

Olympic gymnast Louis Smith yesterday sprang into action and went head over heels - literally - at the opening of the region's first adizone outdoor multi-sports arena and gym.

Olympic gymnast Louis Smith yesterday sprang into action and went head over heels - literally - at the opening of the region's first adizone outdoor multi-sports arena and gym.

The £150,000 facility on Mill Lane playing field, Bradwell, Great Yarmouth, is the sixth in the country to be developed by sports company Adidas to inspire sports participation ahead of the 2012 Olympics.

Free to use 365 days a year, the venue - one of 30 to be built nationwide - has been funded by Adidas in partnership with Yarmouth Borough Council, NHS Great Yarmouth and Waveney and Active Norfolk, the local arm of Sport England, charged with promoting sporting activity.

Mr Smith, 20, of Peterborough, a bronze medallist in the pommel horse at the Beijing Olympics, was joined by local Olympic hopeful, 15-year-old shot putter Sophie McKinna, in cutting the opening ribbon.

Before showing his sporting prowess on the equipment, which includes a climbing wall, basketball, football and tennis arena and an outdoor gym, he said: “When I was growing up, playgrounds just had swings and slides. This takes things to a totally new level.

“These adizones are a great way of inspiring youngsters ahead of the 2012 Olympics. They will encourage kids to put down their computer games and get out there and do something.”

Mr Smith, who holidayed at Yarmouth's Seashore holiday park after his Beijing success, said he hoped he might be able to come back again with a gold medal after the London games.

Miss McKinna, trained by former Commonwealth shot-put champion Geoff Capes, said: “This is a brilliant facility, especially as I live only five minutes away. I hope it inspires the younger generation to get fit and become active.”

Children from local schools, including Lynn Grove and Cliff Park highs and Homefield Primary School eagerly limbered up before becoming the first to christen the equipment.

Yarmouth Mayor Tony Smith said in an age when children were becoming increasingly sedentary it was great to have something physical they could do.

“This facility will encourage a wide section of the community - even I can have a go,” he said.

Graham Plant, the council's cabinet member for regeneration, said: “We were really pleased to work with Adidas on this exciting project.

“We plan to invite local coaches and sports club organisers to attend the site, to spot talent and encourage young people to join local clubs and sporting organisations. Hopefully, it will be the start to encourage more home-grown talent like Sophie.”

The installation incorporates a pledge wall where users will be invited to write their sporting ambitions, goals and thoughts on London 2012.

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