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Future of Erith's Europa gym secured after it becomes home to Olympic and Paralympic volleyball squads

PUBLISHED: 10:47 07 October 2010

Yvonne and Len Arnold

Yvonne and Len Arnold

Archant

The future of a gym which has two athletes competing in the Commonwealth Games - including bronze medal-winner Zoe Smith - has been secured after it was chosen as the training ground for the London Olympics volleyball squads.

Europa Gym plans

London 2012 Organising Committee (LOCOG) president Lord Coe is due to visit Europa Gym in Fraser Road, Erith next Thursday to announce the details of the plan and end years of financial anguish for its owners Len and Yvonne Arnold. Weightlifter and gym member Zoe Smith, 16, from Abbey Wood, has already secured a medal in Delhi in her first major event after being identified as a potential London 2012 Team GB member.

She is joined in India by fellow gym member and weightlifter Jack Oliver, 17, from Bexley. Mr Arnold, who together with his wife moved into the gym to save money after the site’s rent doubled, said: “This is a dream come true for the club. We are looking forward to our new modern facilities and the chance to offer a wider programme of activities to our members and the community.”

The announcement on Tuesday comes after planning permission was granted last November for a new gym to be built on the site of the former Samas Roneo factory in Maiden Lane, Crayford. But the owners were still left with a massive funding gap.

Now with the help of Bexley council the gym has secured Olympic Delivery Authority (ODA) investment meaning it will be home to Olympic and Paralympic volleyball squads from the start of the Games on July 16, 2012 to the end of the Paralympic Games on September 9, 2012.

Seb Coe

The new gym will be built by Barratt Homes through a development agreement with Bexley council and leased to Europa. It is due to be completed by autumn 2011.

Leader of Bexley council Teresa O’Neill said: “Europa gym is a very important community facility in Bexley and we are thrilled that they will soon have a new home and a secure future. As well as the ODA investment, we have secured a unique funding package that includes an offer of Sports Lottery funding, contributions from Barratt Homes and a number of other partners.

“I am looking forward to revealing full details of the scheme on October 14.”

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