Young athletes and Olympic medalists alike have joined the campaign to save the sporting facilities at the Crystal Palace National Sports Centre (NSC), which are under threat as part of the Greater London Authority’s proposals to redevelop and downsize the NSC.
South of England 3000m champion Alex Yee (16) is anxious that he will be left with nowhere to train as the proposals could see the athletics track, stadium, and indoor 100m track go to make way for a new school. Crystal Palace parkrun and triathlon events may also go as the GLA is proposing a new access road from the NSC to Crystal Palace Park Road.
Alex, who is the UK’s fastest u17 on record for the non-championship distance of 5km (14 minutes 40seconds), and regular parkrunner, said: “Crystal Palace Sports Centre is vital to my training as a Triathlete. Several times every week during the winter, spring or summer, I swim in the pool, ride on the perimeter road and run on the track.”
“Crystal Palace was where I was first introduced to Triathlon when I took part in a Kids of Steel event when I was eight. I then joined Crystal Palace Triathletes as soon as they started a junior section and have been training there every week ever since.”
“I have won many races at Crystal Palace including the Crystal Palace Triathlon, London Youth Games Aquathlon and SEAA 3,000m. Now that I am in the Triathlon England Talent Squad it is essential that I have access to a facility where I can safely train for all three Triathlon disciplines.”
Three meter springboard medallist Annabel Triggs (13), from Kenley, is also worried that the GLA’s proposals will leave her with nowhere to train because there is no provision for a dry gym, and the proposal to put in a moving floor in the diving pool would make the higher boards unusable.
She is a member of the Crystal Palace Diving Club, one of the most successful clubs competing in this country, which regularly produces national champions and sees its divers progress to Great Britain and World Series level. Annabel is already National Age Group Bronze medallist on the three metre springboard and competed in Rome in July and in Lund, Sweden, in November.
She said: “The 2012 London Olympics were fantastic and DID inspire me and many of my generation, but two years later, this development threatens to take away the facilities young athletes have available in South London, and close successful and long standing sports clubs. Is that really the Olympic legacy for us?”
The young athletes are backing the campaign organised by Crystal Palace Sports Partnership (CPSP), formed of a partnership of local sports and leisure clubs, and other NSC stakeholders who were left out of earlier ‘top down’ consultations with GLA’s appointed consultancy CSM Strategic.
The CPSP, under chairman John Powell MBE, lobbied for and won an extension to the GLA consultation on the future of the NSC. Its petition (http://tinyurl.com/cpsp-petition) has achieved over 3,700 signatures in just four weeks, and it has also gained the support of the NSC’s sporting alumni.
The Olympic 400-metre gold medallist Christine Ohuruogu MBE said: “It’s a shame that a pivotal, memorable and hugely historical icon of British athletics is on the brink of being taken away. Grassroots to champions, that is Crystal Palace athletics track.”
Donna Fraser, current President of South of England Athletics Association and Olympic 400m finalist at the Sydney Olympics, said: “I am absolutely appalled to hear the future plans for Crystal Palace NSC. This venue has been a key training and competition venue for many sports for many years. Those who make such proposals have no idea of what damaging impact this could have for the community and future Olympians – they need to speak to the coaches, athletes and parents to understand the need for Crystal Palace and take their blinkers off.”
CPSP chairman John Powell said: “The mix of grassroots, community and sporting activities intermixed with elite training sets the NSC apart from other venues. The loss of this amazing regional sports centre would be a devastating loss, not just for the local community, but also for sports access for South London and the South East.”
CPSP is calling on local people to keep the campaign alive by writing to their councilor and Assembly members to keep these invaluable sporting facilities for Crystal Palace and the local community.
Date of publication: 1 December 2014
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