A world-class facility designed for Britain’s Olympic and Paralympic medal hopefuls will also be open to Manchester residents, after the new National Taekwondo Centre was officially unveiled in Newton Heath.
The state-of-the-art facility, which opened at the Ten Acres Lane Sports Complex on Monday 7 March, will be the home of GB Taekwondo and gives star athletes like Jade Jones and Lutalo Muhammad a permanent base – where all of their training and conditioning needs are met under one roof.
And local talent will also benefit from the elite centre, which will be open for schools and local community clubs to use for 46 hours per week.
Members of the GB Taekwondo squad greeted World Taekwondo Federation President, Dr. Chungwon Choue, as he performed the official opening.
Dr Choue said: “It is always a pleasure to be in Manchester. We have been treated to many world-class events here and I am always struck by the quality of the facilities and the passion that exists for our sport. The establishment of the National Taekwondo Centre, which will also serve as a World Taekwondo Federation regional centre, truly cements Manchester as the home of taekwondo in the UK.
“Taekwondo is more than just a sport; it is a philosophy. It teaches discipline, understanding and respect and inspires people to live healthy lifestyles. At the WTF, we are working with all our 206 Member National Associations to develop taekwondo in their countries and encourage people of all ages, genders and backgrounds to participate in the sport.
“I have no doubt that the development of the National Taekwondo Centre in Manchester will do just that and will also ensure British athletes perform at their very best at Rio 2016.”
Manchester City Council’s Executive Member for Culture and Leisure, Councillor Rosa Battle, said: “As well as providing outstanding facilities for GB Taekwondo, the National Taekwondo Centre will provide a lasting community legacy, giving Manchester residents the opportunity to get involved in an Olympic sport, at a world-class centre right on their doorstep.”
GB Taekwondo’s Jade Jones and Lutalo Muhammad captured two medals at London 2012 and British fighters have qualified for four weight divisions for Rio.
Jade Jones said: “It’s a huge boost to the athletes to have this centre open, particularly as we ramp up our preparations for the Rio Games later this year.
“To have world class training and conditioning facilities available for our athletes, along with rooms to rest and recover and to meet with staff, is a really big step forward for taekwondo in the UK.
“It is already having a big impact for the current group and I’m sure it will really benefit and inspire our future taekwondo athletes for years to come.”
The £2.7m project has been funded by Manchester City Council, Sport England and UK Sport, with management services at the centre delivered by the Eastlands Trust.
Rebecca Livesey, Chief Operating Officer of the Eastlands Trust, said: “Manchester is blessed with a wealth of world class facilities and this new addition is fantastic news, not only for GB Taekwondo, but also for sport at grassroots levels.
“As a Trust dedicated to operating world class centres offering accessible community programmes, we are proud to be able to work in partnership with GB Taekwondo and Manchester City Council to deliver a community taekwondo programme that supports clubs across the city, as well as the club based at the National Taekwondo Centre.
“This fantastic addition follows less than 18 months on from a significant investment into three brand new 3G football pitches and the site now provides access to high quality facilities we’re confident will excite, inspire and engage people of all ages from our local communities.”
Charles Johnston, Director of Property at Sport England said: “We are all really pleased to see the opening of the new National Taekwondo Centre and seeing the impact it will have on the sport, from the community participant just starting the experience in the sport to the elite athlete hoping for medal success on the world stage.
“I am sure they will appreciate the world class facilities that have been created in partnership with GB Taekwondo, UK Sport and Manchester Council.”
Liz Nicholl, CEO of UK Sport, said: “As the Rio Olympic Games fast approaches, this new training centre will help our best taekwondo players achieve their potential to make the nation proud at this crucial final stage of preparations.
“To achieve world class performances, athletes and staff need access to world class facilities, and this new centre will be a beacon of aspiration for young taekwondo players across the UK.
“Thanks to our elite training centre partnership with Sport England, and partners at Manchester City Council and Eastlands Trust, GB Taekwondo has a fantastic new home.”
GB Taekwondo has been based in Manchester since 2007, but the new centre means that for the first time, elite athletes, coaches and administrators will all work together in the same building.
The opening of the new facility – with its 900m2 training hall and 500m2 strength and conditioning hall – comes as the GB athletes continue to build-up to this summer’s Olympics in Rio, starting with this month’s Dutch Open.
Steve Flynn, GB Taekwondo Director, said: “Facilities are often the major challenge for sports as they strive to develop and improve and it has been no different for GB Taekwondo down the years. Our athletes and staff have often had to compromise but it hasn’t stopped us delivering some superb performances on the mats.
“Now, with the commitment of Sport England, UK Sport, Manchester City Council and Eastlands Trust, who have collectively recognised and responded to the needs of our Performance and Pathway programmes, we have a fantastic platform on which to build towards the Olympic Games this summer and beyond.”
The National Taekwondo Centre is the latest world class facility to be opened in Manchester, with its unveiling following the opening of the National Basketball Performance Centre at the Belle Vue Sports Village, in February 2016.