Page last updated at 07:06 GMT, Friday, 14 November 2008

Crane starts 13m canoe centre

Artist impression of International Sports Village
The 250m canoe course will be part of the International Sports Village.

A giant crane is to start building work on an Olympic-standard pumped canoe slalom centre - the first of its kind in the UK.

The 13.3m canoe slalom and white water rafting centre in Cardiff Bay could be used for some of the 2012 London Olympics events.

50,000 people are also expected to use it each year as part of Cardiff's international sports village (ISV).

The 180-tonne crane will be constructed on site before it starts work.

It will be used to build a cofferdam - a temporary dam that will hold back the water for four large pumps to be installed.

These will eventually provide the flow of 16 cubic metres of water per second to the canoe slalom course.

Olympic hope

Following the construction of the cofferdam, the crane with then be floated on a pontoon in the River Ely to create a retained water pool separating the course from the river.

The centre, which is being developed by Cardiff Council and part financed by the Welsh Assembly Government, will provide canoeing and white water rafting facilities from starter to recreational through to full international and Olympic competition use.

Cardiff Council leader Rodney Berman said the centre "will add to this city's reputation as a world class centre for sport".

Left to right (Executive member for Sport, Leisure & Culture Nigel Howells; Cardiff Council leader Rodney Berman; Neil Beresford, Regional Director of Dean and Dyball Civil Engineering)
The crane will be constructed on site before it begins work.

He went on: "I know there is a huge anticipation for this facility which will be the first in the UK with the fun element of white water rafting, as well as being of international importance to canoeing in the UK.

"It would be great for Wales if this facility could be used for the finals of the London 2012 Olympics"

In slalom canoeing, competitors travel down a 250m course on turbulent, white-water rapids. They must pass through a twisting sequence of 25 gates, avoiding penalty points for touching the poles.

There are currently approximately 1,25m canoeists in the UK, making it the highest participation water activity.

It is thought around 38 canoeing clubs in south Wales alone could benefit from the centre, as well as attracting enthusiasts from across the UK.

The ISV already includes a 50m international pool, while a 2,000 seat temporary ice rink is expected to be replaced by a 5,000 seat venue within the next five years.

This will also include an area which could serve Olympic sports such as gymnastics, weightlifting, boxing, wrestling, judo, fencing, and basketball.

It will also have facilities for ice sports, skating and a snow box.

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