SCOTLAND’S first dedicated para-sports facility is being built as part of a commitment to ensuring a lasting legacy from Glasgow 2014.
The £9 million development will see an extensive refurbishment of the National Sports Centre Inverclyde in Largs, sport secretary Shona Robison announced yesterday.
The para-sports hub – described as the first of its kind in the UK – will allow disabled athletes to train at “outstanding” facilities in a wide range of sports.
It comes after Glasgow 2014 featured the highest number of para-sport events in the history of the Games, with Scottish athletes winning seven medals.
The Scottish Government will invest £6 million towards the refurbishment, which will also provide 60 fully adapted residential rooms.
The remaining £3m will come from Sportscotland, the national agency for sport.
Speaking ahead of a parliamentary debate on the legacy of Glasgow 2014, Ms Robison said: “Team Scotland para-athletes won an amazing seven medals, including three golds, at Glasgow 2014, inspiring more disabled people to take up sport.
“This government is focused on maximising the sporting legacy of the Games and this new funding will give a new generation of para-athletes the chance to train at world-class facilities and emulate their Games heroes.
“Inverclyde is already one of UK’s best-equipped, modern residential sports centres. The redevelopment will help even more para-athletes train in outstanding facilities, with the best technical support, to become world beaters.”
The Largs centre already includes an international standard gymnastics training facility, an indoor 3G pitch, two squash courts and a dance studio.
Outdoor facilities include four full-sized grass football pitches, a synthetic hockey pitch, four synthetic tennis courts, a golf development course and a target range.
The redevelopment will be completed in 2016 and the facility will also benefit young people who want to participate in a range of para-sports.
Stewart Harris, Sportscotland’s chief executive, said: “Scotland has world-class sporting facilities and this significant commitment, coupled with the National Performance Centre for Sport being built in Edinburgh, further improves Scotland’s sporting infrastructure.
“The integration of para-sports into the Glasgow Games was hugely successful and this announcement builds on that by offering local, regional, and national clubs and schools capacity to ensure special needs groups and children with disabilities, as well as performance para-athletes, benefit from using world-class facilities.”
Gavin McLeod, chief executive of Scottish Disability Sport (SDS), said he was “delighted” the investment would see the centre become fully inclusive.
He added: “SDS is committed to supporting children, young people and adults with a disability to participate and compete in their chosen sport and meet their full potential. This investment will undoubtedly support SDS to achieve this aim.”
Speaking at Holyrood, Ms Robison said: “Scotland’s national centre will complement our network of world-class facilities and will allow for a future Erraid Davies, who amazed us at Tollcross, and Neil Fachie and Aileen McGlynn, who rode us to the podium in the velodrome.
“This centre will be the first of its kind in the UK and a testament that sport can be a powerful catalyst for change.”
Labour sports spokeswoman Patricia Ferguson said: “I am delighted with the announcement that the Cabinet secretary has made today. It is entirely fitting that we take this step.”