By James Crook at Lee Valley White Water Centre

120105499March 1 - Olympic venue Lee Valley White Water Centre has launched its new rafting season, with very high demand expected as its £6.3 million ($9.5 million/€7.3 million) renovation project gets underway.

The improvement project, which began last month, includes the construction of a new pavilion, additional changing rooms, more car parking and state-of-the-art support facilities for elite athletes.

Since opening to the public in 2011, more than 45,000 people have experienced rafting at the centre, as well as over 18,000 participating in kayaking or canoeing at the venue.

The venue itself has also attracted a total of 185,000 visitors, with the opportunity to watch the white water action from the licensed water-side cafe proving to be popular with the public. 

"We're very proud that we were the first brand new London 2012 venue to re-open to the public after the Games and we're delighted to see the positive effect which the Games has had," said Lee Valley Regional Park Authority chief executive Shaun Dawson.

"As well as proving commercially successful Lee Valley White Water Centre is also providing many opportunities for people to try canoeing, kayaking and rafting and will continue to do so throughout the development work which is currently taking place.

112510298Over 45,000 people have experienced white water rafting at Lee Valley White Water Centre

"The venue hosted this country's first ever Junior Rafting Series last weekend and has already held two hugely successful Schools Festivals, where 2,000 pupils from every London borough as well as Essex and Hertfordshire had the opportunity to go rafting for free.

"With paddlers of every level of ability from beginners to Olympic standard battling the rapids this truly is a fantastic example of a successful Olympic legacy in action."

The improvements to the arena - which saw Great Britain's Etienne Stott and Tim Bailie take gold in the Canoe Slalom at the London 2012 Games - are due for completion in early 2014 and will enable the centre to facilitate more visitors to a high standard.

To find out more about rafting experiences and canoeing or kayaking at Lee Valley White Water Centre, click here.

Contact the writer of this story at james.crook@insidethegames

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