Page last updated at 12:22 GMT, Friday, 9 April 2010 13:22 UK

North Lanarkshire named a 'European City of Sport'

Gavin Hastings and Yvonne Murray
Gavin Hastings and Yvonne Murray helped celebrate receiving the honour

North Lanarkshire has been named the UK's European City of Sport for 2011.

The prestigious title is awarded to areas with fewer than 500,000 residents and recognises excellence in using sport to improve communities.

Judges praised the region's efforts in promoting healthy lifestyles and encouraging people to participate in sports and exercise.

North and South Lanarkshire are to jointly host the International Children's Games next summer.

Up to 1,500 competitors, aged between 12 and 15, from more than 70 countries will arrive in the area for the event dubbed the "Mini Olympics."

Inspectors from the European Capitals of Sport Association (ACES) visited North Lanarkshire in January.

They toured facilities including the Wishaw Sports Centre, the Aquatec, Tryst and the newly opened Broadwood Sports and Leisure Facility.

Hopefully it will further encourage people from across the area to get involved in sport and use the excellent facilities we have on offer
Blane Dodds
North Lanarkshire Leisure

They also got to see how work is progressing at the new £32m Ravenscraig Regional Sports facility, which is due to open in the Autumn.

ACES chairman Gian Francesco Lupattelli said: "The commitment to invest in sport and leisure is clear to see, not least through exciting initiatives like Broadwood and Ravenscraig.

"Both the council and leisure trust see sport and leisure as a vehicle to regenerate areas and promote healthy lifestyles."

Scottish sporting stars Gavin Hasting and Yvonne Murray attended the ceremony where the award was annnounced.

Gavin Hastings said: "Everything I have achieved in my life has been down to sport.

"The investment that North Lanarkshire Council and North Lanarkshire Leisure have made in sport and facilities are a shining example to the whole of Scotland."

Blane Dodds, chief executive of North Lanarkshire Leisure, added: "It is tremendous to receive this accolade.

"Hopefully it will further encourage people from across the area to get involved in sport and use the excellent facilities we have on offer."

The judges praised the fitness motivators in schools programme and the partnerships developed with local clubs, sports bodies and the NHS.



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