IT IS a dream Len and Yvonne Arnold thought they would never see come true.

But within days, the chairman of the London 2012 Olympic Organising Committee (LOCOG) Lord Coe, will unveil the details of their new Europa Centre and formally announce it as one of the first appointed training centres for London's Olympic and Paralympic Games.

The new centre in Maiden Lane, Crayford will be home to the Europa Gym Club, Nemesis Boxing Club and the Europa Weightlifting Club and it will be up and running by the autumn of next year.

The clubs are already home to some of Britain's brightest young sporting hopes.

One of its weightlifting members Zoe Smith, 16, from Abbey Wood, today (October 6) won a bronze medal in weightlifting at the Delhi Commonwealth Games.

And now it has been announced the centre will home to the Olympic and Paralympic volleyball squads as their training base from July 16 2012 until September 9 when the Paralympic Games finish.

For the Arnolds, it will be a triumphant end to the battle to keep Europa alive.

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' rhythmic gymnastics.

They founded the gym club 17 years ago at its present home in an old industrial building in Fraser Road, Erith.

It was 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.

After several years, they made an ill-fated decision to move the club to Slade Green.

It only took a year to discover they had made a bad mistake, and they decided to move back to Fraser Road.

Mr Arnold said: "It was very hard trying to put this place back together.

"But we had lots of kids doing different sports and the amount of help we had from our president Jenny Kent, mums and dads and tradesmen was amazing."

He added: "But we got to the stage where the finances were dire, so Yvonne and I decided to sell our house and move in above the gym so we could put more money into the club."

And he described the decision as "not the biggest deal in the world".

Mr Arnold explained: "Yvonne and I were lucky because when we were young we were surrounded by people who helped sustain our sporting lives and went out of their way to give us the best sporting chances they could.

"It is not the same today."

He said: "I cannot remember the last time I saw a group of kids playing football in the street.

"I can understand why parents are not happy letting their children out to play, but society has not done anything to replace that."

We provide a focus for young people.

"Europa is a place where they feel comfortable and so do their parents."

After all their mammoth struggles, the couple were dealt another blow two years ago; one they thought could sink the club for good.

The new owners of their Fraser Road building decided it was more suited to industrial uses, and increased the club's rent to a commercial level.

It rose from an annual £30,000 to £55,000 last year and this August it went up again to £80,000.

Mr Arnold said: "You've got to have a bit of faith."

He said a week after the club's plight was aired on television, they started receving small donations of cash, mainly from pensioners.

Mr Arnold added: "It was wonderful and the money meant a lot to them, but we could do very little with it."

So the club decided to make all the donors life members and invites them as VIPs to all its events.

He said: "It was surprising and gratifying to discover how many people supported the club."

Mr Arnold gave the example of Bexley's London Assembly member James Cleverly.

He said: "James has been down to the club several times to talk to the kids, and when you are struggling to keep going, it gives everyone a real buzz."

Mr Arnold added: "The kids are really excited about next week."

Lord Coe will visit Europa's current Erith home next Thursday (October 14) where details of the new centre will be unveiled.

It has now attracted cash from the Olympic Delivery Authority, to add to the package of Sports Lottery funding, a £1.5m contribution from Barratt Homes which will build homes on the rest of the Maiden Lane site, and several other donors.

The scheme, based at the former Samas Roneo land in Crayford, was given planning permission last year, with a condition which prevents work on the new homes starting until the Europa Centre is up and running.

The 2,080sq m building will have a main hall, changing facilities, a reception, a cafe and two separate multi-activity rooms, with the option of adding a mezzanine floor.

Looking out over an ecological open space, it will have its own entrance from Maiden Lane and dedicated parking.

Councillor Teresa O'Neill, leader of Bexley Council which has helped put the scheme together, said: "Europa Gym is a very important community facility in Bexley and we are thrilled it will soon have a new home and a secure future."

Last year Cllr O'Neill had written to the then Olympic minister Tess Jowell and told her: “To many people in the area, the best legacy the Olympics could provide, would be to secure the future of the Europa Gym.”