Trackstar Steve Cram opened a new £100,000 badminton centre at St John Fisher Catholic High School on Tuesday.
The badminton hub, which received £83,000 of funding from Badminton England, along with financial support from the school itself, features four badminton courts in a state of the art rennovation of the sports hall.
The hub, with the latest innovations in lighting, flooring, and sports equipment, will be open to the public in the evenings after school closes and at weekends.
With representatives from Badminton England, Sport England, Yorkshire Bank, and the school, Mr Cram spoke about the importance of investment in school sports.
He said: “I have had the chance today to meet pupils and teachers and it is very obvious that sport forms an important part here, which is fantastic, but this building here is really indicative of where we need to be going.
“We need to continue our success in sports and the only way to do that is through these youngsters.
“Investment in school sport is difficult because it has been up and down, but we still need to try and use schools to give that first experience of sport.
“All sports people got their first experience in school and I was no different with running, so I firmly believe that investing in schools and school facilities is the way forward.”
Headteacher Paul Jackson accepted a shirt signed by the England badminton squad on behalf of the school, presented by Badminton England facilities investment manager Jonathan Lee.
Mr Jackson said: “We have a long history of sporting achievement at the school. Being able to facilitate a high quality, regional badminton hub enables us to support the ongoing development of sport both within the school and the wider community.
“Our original partnership with Badminton England goes back to 2008 and we have a ten year agreement with them so that at weekends and in the evening this space can be used for the next ten years.
“The school is committed to working with the local community, and we have long term plans for the hub that is part of that commitment.
“We are immensely proud of this new development, which marks the completion of the first stage in our extensive plans to improve our sporting facilities.”
Mr Lee also drew attention to the importance of sports in the community, which is doing particularly well in Yorkshire.
He said: “Very little of our investment is actually in London, and Yorkshire as a county has probably done best in terms of the amount of money invested in sport.
“We have done a project in Sheffield and one in Leeds, and we are doing one in Pontefract and now in Harrogate, so the county is obviously very good at identifying projects and working with us to complete them.
“This is something you can see if you look back over the last few years, and the number of badminton players from Yorkshire has also been disproportionate in terms of coaching standards and players on a national level.”
The Harrogate Mayor Coun Michael Newby was also in attendance at St John Fisher, where he used to teach.
“Because I used to teach here, I have two reasons for being interested in this new development,” he said.
“I remember what the sports hall used to look like, so I can be doubly impressed by how it looks now.
“The other reason is that it is going to open up to the community, which means we have got yet another excellent facility in the district.
“We are always saying people should take part in sports, which is fine if you have the facilities, so it is great to see that we have some here.”