An early legacy of world-class new sporting facilities was unveiled today as HRH The Princess Royal viewed the white water canoe centre for the London 2012 Games - the first brand new 2012 venue completed by the Olympic Delivery Authority (ODA). The Lee Valley White Water Centre has been built near Waltham Cross in Hertfordshire and will host the Canoe Slalom events during the Olympic Games.
Before and after 2012, the venue will be owned and operated by Lee Valley Regional Park Authority (LVRPA) as a sporting and leisure facility for canoeing and white water rafting, as well as a major competition and training venue. The venue will open to the public for rafting and canoeing in April 2011 delivering an early legacy over a year before the Games begin.
The Lee Valley White Water Centre includes funding from Lee Valley Regional Park Authority, the East of England Development Agency, and Sport England, which played a key role in funding the legacy facilities at the venue. The ODA started construction in July 2009 and work has now been completed, making it the first brand new 2012 venue to be finished.
The venue was unveiled today by HRH The Princess Royal, joined by LOCOG Chair Seb Coe, ODA Chairman John Armitt, Olympics Minister Hugh Robertson and LVRPA Chairman Derrick Ashley. A number of Team GB canoeists also attended the event to try out the Olympic competition course for the first time.
Campbell Walsh, Olympic silver medallist in Canoe Slalom said: 'It’s hugely exciting to test the rapids at the new Lee Valley White Water Centre for the first time. The course looks great and I'm sure it will make a spectacle of a race for the Olympic Games.'
Olympic Delivery Authority Chairman John Armitt said: 'The completion of the White Water Centre - on budget and over 18 months before the Games - is a huge milestone. As the first brand new 2012 venue we have finished, it is a clear sign of the early legacy the Games are already delivering.
'Seeing canoeists and rafters use the courses for the first time gives us a glimpse of the excitement we can expect here in 2012 and the world-class new facilities that people of all ages and abilities will be able to use for many years to come.'
Seb Coe, Chair of the London 2012 Organising Committee, said: 'This is another great story. Our vision has always been to use the power of the Games to inspire change and this is another world-class venue that would not have been built without Britain staging the Games. With the centre open to the public both before and after the thrilling action at Games time, it really does demonstrate the great legacy that London 2012 will leave for users, from elite athletes to kids from local communities.'
Olympics Minister Hugh Robertson said: 'The Lee Valley White Water Centre is an excellent example of the benefits London 2012 has brought to the UK. The construction of this purpose-built site has created business and employment opportunities. This is now a major competition and training venue for elite athletes, while the public rafting and canoeing facilities will bring more new people to the sport and help leave a legacy from hosting the Games.'
Derrick Ashley, Lee Valley Regional Park Authority Chairman, said: 'It’s a hugely exciting time as we prepare to open the doors to this world class venue. Tickets are on sale now for white water rafting and from April 2011 members of the public can experience adrenalin-pumping white water on the same course that will be used by the world’s best athletes.
'We will ensure that the venue is used by everyone from elite athletes to schools, sports clubs and community groups and the Centre will join our existing award-winning sports venues to become an integral part of the Lee Valley destination for active sport and leisure.'
Professor William Pope, Chair of the East of England Development Agency (EEDA), said: 'EEDA's £4 million investment into Lee Valley’s White Water Canoe Centre has increased the scale and flexibility of this world-class venue, thereby almost doubling the number of people who will be able to access and enjoy the Centre after the Games.
'This brand new venue will be on the world stage come summer 2012. But the long-term economic and social benefits of Lee Valley will be felt for decades to come – boosting Hertfordshire’s tourist trade before, during and after the Games, giving members of the public the opportunity to try out a thrilling new sport, while providing a venue fit to host future European and World Championships.'