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Page last updated at 09:35 GMT, Wednesday, 14 October 2009 10:35 UK
2012 work starts at Dorney Lake
The new bridge at Dorney Lake
A new bridge to help competitors will be constructed

The eyes of the world will be on Berkshire in 2012 as rowers and canoeists battle it out for gold medals at Dorney Lake near Windsor.

Work to prepare the Dorney Lake venue for the Olympics started on Friday 9 October 2009.

The 2000-metre rowing course will be the venue for the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games rowing and flat-water canoeing regattas.

Set in parkland, the rowing course is privately owned by Eton College.

The course was completely finished in 2006 at a cost of £17m.

In the same year, the lake hosted the World Rowing Championships, the second largest rowing event after the Olympic and Paralympic Games, and the first World Rowing Championships in the UK for 20 years.

There can't be anything better than having the Olympics not only in your own country, but right on your doorstep!
Zac Purchase, rower

Dorney Lake has been in use since April 2000, when the first 1000 metres were completed.

The GB Women's Squad were the first to row at the venue. The first major event was the October 2000 SuperSprint Regatta attended by 10,000 people.

The regatta was hailed as Sir Steve Redgrave's last race after the 2000 Sydney Olympics, at which he won his fifth Gold Medal.

However, adjustments need to be made to the lake in order to make it suitable for the rowing and canoeing competitions.

A finish line bridge

The entrance to the return lane next to the finish line needs to be widened. This means the existing finish line bridge needs to be replaced with one of a greater span. The new two-lane bridge will be built along the same orientation and be of similar architectural design as the existing bridge. It will be retained after the Games.

Bridge over the 1400m cut-through

A new cut-through (a short stretch of water linking the main course with the return lane) is being constructed at the 1,400m point. This is required for competitors to reach the start of the canoe, kayak and Paralympic rowing courses.

A new bridge over this cut-through will be built to the same specification and design as the existing 600m cut-through bridge and start line bridge.

The Droveway

The Droveway, a gravel access track running along the south side of the lake, is being upgraded so it can be used by construction and accredited Games-time vehicles. This will separate construction vehicles from other traffic using the venue during the construction period.

Zac Purchase
Zac Purchase won Gold at the Beijing Olympics

Reading-based Olympic gold medallist Zac Purchase said that he was thrilled about the Games coming to Berkshire. "It's fantastic. We had a World Championship on that lake in 2006, to go back there a few years later and have it as an Olympic venue is great!" he said.

"There can't be anything better than having the Olympics not only in your own country, but right on your doorstep."

The Olympic British rowers of the future may also owe their skills to Dorney Lake. A Dorney Lake Junior Aquatics Initiative has given 2,000 children from 20 state and independent schools the chance to train in rowing, canoeing or dragon boating at the venue.


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