Wednesday 5 September 2018

One day one photo - 5: Save Crystal Palace Sports Centre

Over the 21 years I have lived in Crystal Palace there have been regular debates around the future and threat of closure of the local sports centre (aka the National Sports Centre).

I remember in 1999, the local triathlon club discussing whether or not to plan for a triathlon there, given the likelihood of its closure.

But here we are in 2018 with a whole raft of events taking place at the sports complex - swimming (in one of the few 50m pools in London), diving, squash, badminton, trampolining, weight lifting in the sports centre. There's also a gym and a programme of various fitness classes. Then outdoors people do hockey, football, athletics, tennis and even beach volleyball.

Beach Volleyball at Crystal Palace Sports Centre
The sports centre and the surrounding park is also host to various external events - The London Youth Games, Southern Athletics Championships, The Fire fighters Championships, a triathlon, and the regular Tuesday night cycle road racing series. Next week I will be doing a cyclocross race in the park, and the week after that will be running the Southern Road relays championships.

I love going to the sports  centre for my fitness classes, swimming, or for hockey training. Seeing various people out doing some sort of activity has a feeling of being part of an academy for sport. Who says the UK doesn't have an Olympics legacy!

But yet there are talks about what will happen after 2020. The Mayor of London has commissioned a public consultation to "rationalise" the existing and future facilities. That basically means cut-backs to the services.

That could spell the loss of sports facilities that we know and love and which have existed since 1964, when the centre was first opened, and considered state of the art. Of course, we now have the Lee Valley Sports facilities and Queen Elizabeth Olympic park, from the 2012 Olympics, and funds have been diverted in that direction to Crystal Palace's detriment.

Crystal Palace Sports Partnership have set up a website with the latest information. You can sign and on-line petition to save athleteics and sports at Crystal Palace Sports Centre, as well as complete a survey to let them know what sports you do in order for them to understand which activities are a priority in the community.

I really hope that money can be invested in our beloved local sports centre. It's great for the wellbeing of the local community, as well as it being a place that could train tomorrow's world class athletes.

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