Medal hope with £3.5m Lilleshall revamp

All-weather pitches, a video analysis area and improvements to five squash courts form part of a £3.5m investment at Lilleshall National Sport Centre.

The revamp, funded by Sport England, is aiming to give athletes a vital competitive edge ahead of the 2012 Olympic games, a spokesman said.

Hugh Robertson, Minister for Sport and the Olympics, has been unveiling the new facilities in Shropshire.

Up to 80 Olympic athletes used the centre during 2009/10.

Archers, gymnasts and hockey players currently train there as well as the facilities being used by the public.

Archer Alison Williamson told BBC News that the facilities are now the best in the world.

Gymnast Louis Smith trained at the centre ahead of winning bronze in the men's pommel horse in Beijing in 2008 - Britain's first individual Olympic gymnastics medal for 80 years.

Five other British athletes who trained at the centre also won medals in Beijing, the spokesman said.

The refurbishments include £1.1m spent on archery facilities including a video analysis area, fixed speed cameras and improved access for Paralympic archers and almost £2m has been spent on two new floodlit artificial pitches.

Other improvements have been made to the elite athlete rehabilitation facility and relaxation areas as well as refurbishment of five squash courts and various changing facilities around the site.

"We want to give our athletes the sporting edge in London 2012 and providing the very best training facilities is an important part of that," the spokesman said.

"Facilities are just one part of a great deal of work by national governing bodies, coaches, sports scientists, physios - not to mention the athletes themselves over a number of years.

"The right training conditions help to give athletes the edge over their competitors.

"We know this and have put the right facilities in place so British athletes can fulfil their potential."

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