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Europa Gym double act Len and Yvonne Arnold 'delighted' with OBE
A MARRIED couple who run a training centre for London's Olympic and Paralympic Games claim to be the first double act in gymnastics to both have been awarded an OBE.
Len and Yvonne Arnold, aged 57 and 59, have been recognised in the Queen's Birthday Honours list for services to gymnastics.
The pair manage the Europa Gym in Crayford, which was officially opened in March by Mayor of London Boris Johnson.
The state-of-the-art gym in Maiden Lane is the official training venue for the Olympic and Paralympic volleyball teams this summer.
Reacting to the news, Mr Arnold said: "I am delighted. It's unbelievable. It's extra special both of us getting it. Quite a few people from gymnastics have sent their good wishes. No-one can think of a double act that's got it."
They found out the good news at the beginning of the week, but have remained tight-lipped ever since.
Mr Arnold added: "It's wonderful for us. To get it in the Olympic year couldn't be better - it's the cherry on the cake. It's such a special year for us moving into the new facilities."
Mr Johnson described the gym as "the crucible in which our new talent is being forged".
The couple have devoted their lives to gymnastics.
Mrs Arnold was a British and Olympic gymnast before turning to coaching and becoming a British master coach.
Mr Arnold, also a master coach, is currently squad manager for the England girls' artistic gymnastics.
They founded the gym club 17 years ago at its former home in an old industrial building in Fraser Road, Erith.
It was just a bare shell with no lighting or heating, but with the hard work of supporters they transformed it, carving out gymnastic landing pits from the concrete floor and installing a sprung competition floor.