An Olympic gold medal winning gymnast helped open Harpenden’s new multi-million pound leisure centre.

Max Whitlock MBE , who won his third Olympic gold at the pommel horse in Tokyo this summer, was born and brought up a few miles from the centre.

He joined the Mayor of St Albans City and District and Councillor Edgar Hill with the official ribbon-cutting at the centre in Rothamsted Park on Friday, September 24.

Also joining them was badminton star Gail Emms MBE who won silver at the 2004 Olympic Games.

St Albans & Harpenden Review: Gail, the Mayor and MaxGail, the Mayor and Max

The centre was rebuilt by St Albans City and District Council as part of a £20 million project which includes the creation of a new culture centre named after comedy legend Eric Morecambe.

Managed by contractor 1Life, the leisure centre opened for business in April and has built up a membership of almost 4,000 and more than 1,500 local children on the Swim School swimming lesson programme.

Councillor Anthony Rowlands, chair of the council’s Public Realm Committee, said: “I am thrilled that Max agreed to come along and open the new leisure centre that we are proud to have delivered.

“He is one of our greatest ever Olympians, with six medals to his name, and his presence was inspirational to leisure centre users of all ages and abilities.

St Albans & Harpenden Review: Max with an Olympic Gold checks out the centre’s gymMax with an Olympic Gold checks out the centre’s gym

“The new centre is a great asset for the town and surrounding villages as it boasts not only a 25-metre swimming pool but also a learner pool, three exercise studios, sports hall and an 80-station gym.”

Other civic figures were at the official opening, including the Mayor of Harpenden and Councillor Paul Cousin.

Mark Braithwaite, 1Life Managing Director, said: “Following the further relaxation of restrictions in recent months, we were delighted to welcome our valued members of the public to celebrate the opening of Harpenden Leisure Centre.”

The new facility offers the local community 40 group exercise classes per week along with other activities.

More details are available on the centre’s website: