Dame Katherine Grainger DBE – Britain’s most decorated female Olympic athlete – has performed the official opening of the new £8.8 million Sports Academy at Hartpury University and Hartpury College.
Now chair of UK Sport, Dame Katherine described the state-of-the-art facility, which further enhances Hartpury’s reputation as a centre of sporting excellence, as “a place where magic will happen”.
The modern building features hi-tech equipment available nowhere else in the UK, specialist technology used by Premier League and NFL clubs in the United States, and a multi-sports hall featuring integrated cameras.
Dame Katherine is the first British woman to win medals at five successive Olympic Games, including gold at London 2012.
She told the 120 guests at the official opening of the Sports Academy: “The feel of this place is unlike anywhere else I have been, and I’ve competed in high-performance sport for 20 years.
“I’d heard about Hartpury’s results, its facilities and that it was a college and university, but I couldn’t believe it when I drove up the driveway for the first time today - Hartpury doesn’t just live up to expectations, it absolutely surpasses them.
“I didn’t think I’d get excited about sports facilities anymore, but this building, with the different suites, labs and equipment, is ground breaking in a way that I didn’t expect on this level for a college or a university.
“When you get incredible people involved with great vision and drive, combined with great facilities, that’s when the magic happens – this is a place where magic will happen.
“There are fantastic people here who will live, breathe and work in this space and will help other people achieve their ambitions.
“They have everything they need in these buildings, and that belief that anything is possible will live and breathe in this place.
“It is a very exciting place and you can feel that it’s got so much potential for the students who will be here and are lucky enough to be part of it.”
The Sports Academy, which further enhances Hartpury’s reputation as a centre of sporting excellence, includes a biomechanics laboratory, rehabilitation suite, a human performance laboratory, and a multi-sports hall.
It provides students at Hartpury with access to the very latest tools for research into sports science, as well as sports training and fitness.
Russell Marchant, Vice-Chancellor of Hartpury University and Principal of Hartpury College, said: “We’re honoured that Dame Katherine Grainger has opened our new £8.8 million Sports Academy, the largest ever single capital project at Hartpury to date.
“In 2016 we saw our growing numbers of sports students, now over 1,400, and the pressure on facilities initially designed for 700.
“We had to act to protect the quality of our students’ experience, and this building is the result of input from teaching staff, researchers, athletes, students and industry partners.
“As you will see, this building is more than just bricks and mortar. It is about inspiring people – students, academic staff and our community partners.
“Hartpury is all about inspiring people.”
Picture: Dame Katherine Grainger with Russell Marchant, Vice-Chancellor of Hartpury University and Principal of Hartpury College, at the opening of the new Sports Academy