Olympic cash to give city an active legacy

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THE team planning Sheffield’s £10 million centre for sport medicine have pledged the money will be used to get people in the city active.

The Government will award the city £10m for a National Centre of Excellence for Sport and Exercise Medicine as part of the Olympic legacy, The Star revealed yesterday.

David Whitney, the scheme’s Sheffield project director, today said another £15m is needed to support the programmes that will get city residents exercising.

He said the £10m already secured will help to build a physical centre to ‘draw together service, research and teaching elements’ to promote physical activity.

“The next step is to bid for up to £15m in funding over five years from sponsors of the 2012 Olympics and local sponsors to support the population-based programmes that will underpin the new centre,” he said.

Last year just 23 per cent of Sheffield adults exercised for 30 minutes three times a week. Mr Whitney wants to increase that figure by one per cent every year.

He said the centre, which does not yet have a planned location, will focus on three main ambitions - getting residents fitter, getting workers exercising more, and building a strong sporting economy.

“This represents a long-term strategy of substantial cultural change, affecting every part of the city,” he said.

The centre will be run by Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, The University of Sheffield and Sheffield Hallam University.

City leaders today said the centre would boost the local economy and create jobs.

Richard Wright, executive director of Sheffield Chamber of Commerce, said: “This announcement shows Sheffield and its region have some unique strengths that are being recognised nationally.

“We truly are the city of sport and we are now turning it into the city of applied sport to promote health and fitness in the population, which will, in turn, grow our economy and support jobs.”

Rob Copeland, principal research fellow at Sheffield Hallam’s Centre for Sport and Exercise Science, said: “The centre of excellence will bring about a completely new way of working.

“It will create a legacy of physical activity for health that will benefit the people of Sheffield for years to come, whether it’s improving and maintaining health or restoring health.”

Steve Brailey, chief executive of Sheffield International Venues said: “This announcement recognises and builds on what has already been achieved in Sheffield.

“It acknowledges the unique strengths the city and its partners have in all aspects of sport and exercise – not just the facilities and the athletes that use them – but across the board. We look forward to passing on our knowledge about increasing participation in physical activity to this project.”