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Olympic pentathlete Kate French opens new facilities at Judson's Pavilion in Meopham

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An Olympian has paid a visit to her home town to unveil new look sports facilities in the hope of inspiring the next generation.

Meopham-born Kate French, won a gold at this year's 2020 Olympic Games held in Tokyo in the modern pentathlon.

Meopham Olympic Pentathlete Kate French opens the new pavilion in her hometown

The 30-year-old recently paid tribute to her local roots and the various clubs across Gravesham that helped her on the way to the top.

She was on hand this week to unveil the recently-reopened facilities at the Judson's Pavilion in Wrotham Road, which already hosts a grassroots football team, but will now be available to many more sports locally.

Works were completed back in June 2020 but the formal opening was delayed due to Covid restrictions.

Meopham Parish council and the FA jointly commissioned a total refurb to bring the building back to life after a decline in recent years.

Kate spoke to KMTV about the importance of such clubs locally.

Olympian Kate French was on hand for the grand unveiling of the new facilities in Judson's Pavilion
Olympian Kate French was on hand for the grand unveiling of the new facilities in Judson's Pavilion

The gold medalist said: "It's where it began for me I grew up in Meopham and I think it is really important to promote grassroots sport as I think that's where it begins for young children.

"I wouldn't be where I am today without the grassroots sports in the community of Meopham.

"I can only hope to promote it and get more kids into sport."

The Olympian added: "Obviously it's football here and it is really accessible - more accessible than pentathlon to be honest - but there is a fencing club in Meopham which is where I started as well so there are lots of options.

"But yes, I think it's great for kids to have access to facilities like these.

"I'd really love to see more people get involved in pentathlon especially after my gold medal and my team mate's gold medal in the men's competition - it would be great if we can promote the sport more."

Kate French, from Meopham poses with her gold medal
Kate French, from Meopham poses with her gold medal

The pavilion project involved building an extension to the rear of the building, installing a new roof and windows and enlarging the existing car park.

It also has new changing rooms and a community area where it can organise events in conjunction with the local football team, Meopham Colts Football club.

Hundreds are involved with the grassroots side which draws in young people from the local area.

Club trustee Keith Walters said: "I think it is important for them to have a positive role model, somebody who has achieved good things in life that some of these young boys and girls aspire to and that is a positive role model absolutely."

And the youngsters themselves were delighted to see the new facilities had expanded.

School pupil and Colts footballer Samuel Caller said: "This club sort of feels like family with everyone here that is involved in it.

"It does certainly help us enjoy the sport much more because we can feel we are playing it for something much more important."

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