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Olympics bounce gives gym big lift

PUBLISHED: 13:21 30 July 2009 | UPDATED: 10:55 23 August 2010

A GYMNASTICS coach says membership at his gym has significantly increased since the venue was chosen as a potential training venue for London 2012. Bosses at The Meapa, in Cedar Avenue, Gravesend, are now attempting to secure funding to double the size o

A GYMNASTICS coach says membership at his gym has significantly increased since the venue was chosen as a potential training venue for London 2012.

Bosses at The Meapa, in Cedar Avenue, Gravesend, are now attempting to secure funding to double the size of the facility, which has some 700 members from across north Kent.

This week marks the three-year countdown until the start of the Olympics in 2012, with a series of cultural events held across the country last weekend to mark the milestone.

Ukrainian Yuriy Zhovtyuk 32, head coach at the Meapa, said: "The Olympics is a fantastic event, and everyone at the gym is excited that we could be hosting gymnasts competing in London 2012.

"This year, we are in the process of updating our equipment to Olympic standard, and we hope to be the training venue for the Ukrainian gymnastic squad for the World Championships in London this October.

"Ever since we were chosen as a training venue, we have seen an increase in the number of people wanting to join the gym. It has had a very positive effect.

"We were awarded planning permission for an extension to the gym in April this year and we are now in the process of looking for funding to help us with that.

"Youngsters come to us having heard about our link to the Olympics and are keen to train here."

It was announced in March last year that the venue met the strict criteria needed to become a training venue for athletes for the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. The venue will appear in the official 2012 guide which will be sent to every national Olympic committee across the globe.

Other venues in north Kent chosen as potential training sites include Nurstead Court Equestrian Centre in Nurstead Church Lane, Meopham, Dartford Judo Centre and Princes Park Stadium in Dartford.

Mr Zhovtyuk added: "The Olympics will be a great thing for this country, and the legacy will be a boost for all sport.

"For us, hosting these top-class athletes will give our members so much inspiration, and could give them an extra push to try and compete in Olympics in the future."

On Monday London 2012 chief Lord (Sebastian) Coe said preparations for the games were ahead of schedule. Nearly 40 per cent of the work on the Olympic Park in Stratford is finished.

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