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One of Sheffield’s most famous sporting sons returned ‘home’ this week to see first-hand how Sheffield Hallam University is playing a key role in delivering a sport, health and wellbeing legacy.

Lord Sebastian Coe visited the site of the University's new Advanced Wellbeing Research Centre (AWRC) which will form the centrepiece of the Olympic Legacy Park (OLP) and said he believes the city’s Olympic legacy can become a template of best practice for cities not just in the UK, but around the world.

Building is expected to start next year on the AWRC, which will create 'innovations that help people move', tackling issues around static levels of physical activity and rising obesity and is set to become the most advanced research and development centre for physical activity in the world.

The AWRC has already attracted three major research partners - Toshiba, Westfield Health and parkrun.

Professor Steve Haake, director of the AWRC, said: “I was proud to invite Lord Coe to see our plans to develop the most advanced research and development centre for physical activity in the world. We share the same commitment to improving the health and wellbeing of the nation and Lord Coe’s visit helps us to cement our global reputation for putting the science into sport and physical activity.”

The IAAF President toured the facilities being delivered as part of the city’s London 2012 legacy and officially opened Graves Health and Sports Centre - a £16m facility delivered by the National Centre for Sport and Exercise Medicine (NCSEM).

It is one of three hubs across the city and includes swimming pools, tennis courts, fitness studios and a gymnastics and trampolining centre and physiotherapists and doctors will be based in its consultation and treatment rooms. The NCSEM is one of only seven projects in the world sanctioned by the International Olympic Committee. 

Lord Coe also visited the English Institute of Sport Sheffield (EIS Sheffield) to unveil a new-look Hall of Champions featuring athletes who have trained at the venue on their way to becoming world, Olympic or Paralympic champions.

He met IBF heavyweight champion, Anthony Joshua, who was re-inaugurated into the Hall of Fame alongside giant images of Olympic gold medallist, Nicola Adams, Paralympic Boccia champion, David Smith, and Paralympic table tennis champions, Will Bayley and Rob Davies.

Lord Coe said: “As ever, I’m really impressed. I’ve seen the site develop, I’ve see the EIS Sheffield go from strength to strength and I’ve seen the way sport has been used to help the city transition through different economic challenges. This is yet another leg of that journey.

“Sheffield understands the power of sport not just in terms of elite level but the way to harness this to local communities and I think this is a city that’s done that in an exemplary way and should be seen as a template for so many other cities not just in the UK but around the world." - Lord Coe

L-R: Richard Caborn, Lord Coe, Sheffield Hallam Vice-Chancellor Professor Chris Husbands and Professor Steve Haake talk through the plans for the AWRC.jpg

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“When we were bidding for London 2012, it was really important that we didn’t just see it as the development of 500 acres of land in east London. As someone who was born in London but brought up in this great city, I see the world from outside the M25.

“It’s really important that we were able to show that, while you can have an Olympic Park and all the things you wanted off the back at the Games at a local level, those tentacles spread far and wide and I think Sheffield is a really good example of that.” 

The next stop was a visit to the UTC Sheffield Olympic Legacy Park campus where Lord Coe met a group of young sports science students. The UTC, which opened last month, specialises in healthcare, sports science, and computing, to develop new skills for young people and fill skills gaps for employers in developing high value sectors and research.

The day culminated with Sheffield’s Celebration of Sport – an evening gala dinner in the centre of the Indoor Athletics Arena at EIS Sheffield honouring the city’s past, present and future stars.

Hosted by BBC sports reporter Tanya Arnold, the star-studded event was attended by a cluster of VIPs including Sheffield golden girl Jessica Ennis-Hill, the GB Boxing squad, Olympic hockey champion, Hollie Webb, Olympic trampolining silver medallist, Bryony Page, IBF welterweight champion, Kell Brook, IBF heavyweight champion, Anthony Joshua, professional mountain biker, Steve Peat, and British cycling road champion, Adam Blythe.

Richard Caborn, project lead for Legacy Park Limited, said: “It was fantastic to have the opportunity to invite Lord Coe back home to Sheffield to see the exciting developments and demonstrate first-hand how we're using the spirit and motivation of London 2012 to establish practical ways of helping people across the nation to become more physically active.

“The visit, together with Sheffield’s Celebration of Sport, marked another milestone in Sheffield’s sporting history.

“We are in the midst of the next chapter of Sheffield’s sporting future, part of a story which will ultimately impact positively on the health and wellbeing of most of the city’s population. What we are creating here in Sheffield can become a model for the world.”

For press information: Sarah Duce in the Sheffield Hallam University press office on 0114 225 4025 or email