Olympic legends to open new Harpenden leisure centre

Gymnast Max Whitlock, who won gold at the Tokyo Olympic Games.

Gymnast Max Whitlock, who won gold at the Tokyo Olympic Games. - Credit: SADC

Two medal winning Olympians will officially open Harpenden's new multi-million pound leisure centre.

Gymnast Max Whitlock MBE and badminton star Gail Emms MBE are inviting residents are invited to join them at the event on September 24 for a celebratory Picnic in the Park.

Max, who won his third Olympic gold at the pommel horse in Tokyo this summer, was born and brought up a few miles from the centre, and will be joined by Gail, who won silver at the 2004 Olympic Games.

Sports clubs, school and community groups will be present at the launch at the centre in Rothamsted Park from 4pm to 6pm with residents urged to come along.

A number of family-friendly games and activities, including tennis sessions, are being arranged.

The centre was rebuilt by owners St Albans districtcouncil as part of a £20 million project which includes the creation of a new culture centre named after comedy legend Eric Morecambe.

Cllr Anthony Rowlands, chair of the council’s public realm committee, said: “I am thrilled that Max has agreed to come along and open the new leisure centre that we are proud to have delivered.

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“He is one of our greatest ever Olympians, with six medals to his name, and his presence at the opening will be inspirational to leisure centre users of all ages and abilities.

“The new centre is a great asset for the town and surrounding villages as it boasts not only a 25-metre swimming pool but also a learner pool, three exercise studios, sports hall and an 80-station gym.

“Max will be joined by other sports stars, including Gail Emms, and I am sure many centre users and residents will accept our invitation to come along, have a picnic and join in the fun. It should be a great celebration.”

Max and Gail will assist St Albans Mayor Edgar Hill with the official ribbon-cutting.

The Eric Morecambe Centre (EMC) is due to be officially opened on Saturday October 16. More details about that event will be revealed at a later date.