Olympic gold medal star helps launch Essex Sport Arena

  • Date

    Mon 29 Jan 18

Max Whitlock MBE with Rt Hon John Bercow MP

Our £12m Essex Sport Arena was launched by double Olympic champion Max Whitlock MBE and our Chancellor the Rt Hon John Bercow MP and attracted hundreds of guests from the local community plus University staff and their families.

Hordes of children turned up in their gym kit to meet their gold medal-winning hero who will open his new Max Whitlock Gymnastics School on Monday 5 February.

Max said: “This arena looks absolutely unbelievable. I am really proud of the location and can’t wait to get started. Our mission is to get as many kids as possible involved in sport. If we can inspire the next generation we will have done a great job.”

John said: “To see so many people coming in from outside the University of Essex is testimony to a truth I have long recognised, that the University, by forging and nurturing links with the community, is not only doing the right thing for its students, it is also being a constructive member of the community.

“This is a dramatically superior facility that will go from strength to strength.”

The new space, with seating for 1,655 spectators, offers international standard sporting facilities, suitable for staging televised sporting events. These include eight badminton courts, three basketball courts, three netball courts, five volleyball courts and two futsal courts, which will be available for hire to sports groups and individuals.

It will also be the home for our newly established School of Sport, Rehabilitation and Exercise Sciences and its world-renowned researchers. The School is also developing the next generation of sport scientists, sports coaches, sports therapists and physiotherapists.

Our Vice-Chancellor Professor Anthony Forster said: “Essex Sport Arena is a physical manifestation of the scale of ambition we have for sport here in Essex and the ambition we have for the student experience at the University.

“As an international standard sporting venue, we are also looking forward to hosting memorable sporting events here which can be enjoyed by our students, staff and the wider public. I’m delighted the benecos Mavericks netball team will be staging three of this season’s netball super league fixtures in the Arena.”

The day included the chance for visitors of all ages to try sports including walking football and netball, drop-in fitness classes, basketball and tennis. Eight primary schools also played in a special basketball tournament which was won by the Clacton Cannons who beat the Millfields Mavericks from Wivenhoe by 18-12.