Matlock’s state-of-the-art new leisure centre will be a lasting Olympic legacy – declared London 2012 figurehead Sebastian Coe.
The former Olympic gold medal winner and chairman of the organising committee of the Olympic and Paralympic games, was in the town to open the £12million Arc Leisure Matlock – which he said could create future Olympians.
Lord Coe said: “This is a living, breathing example of legacy at its best in Matlock.
“This is the perfect story. This is partnership.
“It’s absolutely everything that we went to Singapore for to bid for the Olympic Games. It was not just about 16 extraordinary days. It was always about creating legacy.”
The Olympic hero was greeted by a children from 18 Derbyshire schools who cheered and waved flags for his arrival.
He was taken on a tour of the facilities which includes an eight-lane pool, sports hall and fitness suite, spoke to pupils, volunteers and staff and unveiled a plaque in the main pool.
Commonwelath Games gold medallist Donna Kellogg, who hails from Derbyshire, chatted to Lord Coe, where she was coaching pupils from local schools and other talented athletes including Tideswell’s Olympic mogul skier Ellie Koyander and wu shu star Sam Mak from Matlock, met the Olympics boss.
Lord Coe was invited to open the centre by Derbyshire Dales MP Patrick McLoughlin, who is also the Conservative Party’s chief whip.
Afterwards, speaking to the Mercury, Lord Coe said he was impressed with Arc and felt it would inspire future sport stars.
He added: “It’s a stunning development. It really is state-of-the-art.
“It was absolutely right for the council to create this facility. I can’t imagine this has had anything other than big approval.
“I think it is safe to say I’m very impressed.”
Lord Coe said he was knew Matlock and the Dales well and often used to train in the area.
“I was brought up in South Yorkshire up the road in Sheffield but used to do a lot of training round here.
“I used to train in Chatsworth park. On a Sunday morning I used to run up to 20 miles in the park. There’s not a lot of this area I don’t know,” he added.
He said the Dales was well-placed to be part of London 2012, with good train links between Derby and London and two Matlock schools – Highfields and St Joseph’s – had already signed up to the Get Set educational programme which would secure the schools tickets to the Games.
He said: “A high number of people from this area have applied to volunteer at the Olympic Games.
“Then there is the torch relay which will be coming through Matlock.”
Among those who met Lord Coe was nine-year-old Nina Rossello, and eight-year-old Mia Thomas of St Joseph’s Catholic Primary School, in Matlock.
Nina said: “We didn’t think we would meet him so we were very surprised.
“He asked us what sports we like and what we did. I said cross country and horse riding.”
Mia added: “He was very nice. We were very lucky to meet him.”
Derbyshire’s 2012 Legacy coordinator Rory Slater said the official opening by the former middle-distance runner, who set 11 world records and won four Olympic medals, had been a huge boost for the area.
He added: “It’s been absolutely wonderful and it puts Matlock and the Derbyshire Dales on the international map.
“The facilities here are of a national and international standard. The Olympics are not just about 2012 and this really brings it home to this beautiful part of Derbyshire.”
Arc opened at the end of August and has since recorded 55,000 visits.