Sir Ben opens sports centre at old school
The greatest sailor in Olympic history returned to his old school in Cornwall yesterday to officially open a £4m sports centre named after him.
Four-times gold medallist Sir Ben Ainslie CBE, who began messing about in boats near his family's home at Restronguet Creek as a boy, said he was proud to receive the honour from the staff, governors and pupils of Truro School.
Fresh back from victory against New Zealand in the America's Cup, sailing's superman said: "It's great to be back in my old school and to meet some of the current students. It was a great school when I was here 25 years ago and it is clearly an even better one now."
With an investment of £4.2 million, the Sir Ben Ainslie Sports Centre is the largest sports facility in the city, boasting an extensive range of amenities, including two squash courts, a fitness suite, dance studio, gym, changing rooms, classrooms and eight badminton courts.
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The winner of four consecutive Gold medals – one gained during the London 2012 Olympic Games – Sir Ben has become a role model for the current generation of Truro School pupils. And while acknowledging the part his teachers played in helping him to achieve his goals, he admitted to being inattentive in some lessons.
"Contrary to what people might think, I was not a naturally gifted sportsman during my time at Truro School," he told a packed hall of pupils and teachers. "And if I'm honest, I spent a lot of Maths and Physics lessons staring out of the window at the beautiful views and dreaming of sailing."
Welcoming the school's most distinguished "old boy" to unveil a plaque in his honour, headmaster Andrew Gordon-Brown said: "Having you officially open the new sports centre is a great pleasure for us all because you have shown that dreams can be realised with hard work, which is something we promote to our students throughout the school. We are certain you will continue to inspire our pupils and others in our community and we hope local people will use the facilities."
Mr Gordon-Brown praised the work of his predecessor, Paul Smith, for his vision during the planning stages of the new facility, the school's governors for their confidence, and builders Interserve for delivering the project "on schedule, on budget and to such a high standard".
"This sports hall is a bold statement about where we are heading as a school," he said. "We are striving for sporting excellence and this sports centre fits perfectly with our vision for our pupils and the wider community."
He said staff and parents were keen to continue the legacy of the London 2012 Olympics by helping to inspire and support sporting talent right across Cornwall by enabling the public to use the new facilities.
"It is fantastic that we are able to provide such state-of -the-art facilities, not only for our pupils but for the community as a whole," he added.
Sir Ben told pupils: "My advice for youngsters today would be first and foremost that they enjoy their sailing and to remember that if they enjoy it and work hard at developing their skills, who knows what might happen."