THE head of PE at the Deanes School says plans to close the specialist sports college, less than a year after the London Olympics are “a huge disappointment” and a threat to the legacy of the Games.

Only 11 months ago, hundreds of pupils from the school cheered as they watched the world’s best mountain bike riders take on the “Deanes Drop” on the Olympic mountain biking course at Hadleigh Farm.

This was after youngsters won a competition to name a section of the track.

Now, Kevin Dyke, head of sport, health and performance at the school, in Daws Health Road, Thundersley, has voiced his disappointment the school is facing the axe. This is despite staff still working hard to embody the ethos of the Games and inspire the next generation of sports stars.

Mr Dyke said: “It was surreal to hear the Deanes Drop mentioned in the commentary, knowing we named it, and that it is now part of our Olympic heritage. It was just amazing.

“It’s so nice to have that Olympic venue on our doorstep and we were keen, once it was opened to the public, to make use of the track. But now it’s just such a huge disappointment that they could be closing our school so soon after, especially as we are a specialist sports college. It’s so ironic the Olympics was such a big thing last year and we were the only big school invited along.

Now they are thinking about closing us.

“We took about 300 children there on the day and if you look at all the TV shots, it’s just all filled with pupils from the Deanes.”

Mr Dyke said pupils were even given coaching sessions at the course by a former Olympic gold medallist, and that the school was inundated with youngsters wanting to get mountain bike lessons.

Essex County Council is currently carrying out a public consultation on the closure plans.

But, concerns are growing if they go ahead, the Olympic legacy would be harmed, as 48 primary schools would have to find facilities elsewhere, not to mention the hundreds of people who use the Deanes sports centre.

Last month the school was the only venue to come forward to host the district primary schools sports day in Castle Point, catering for 12 schools and more than 1,000 children.

Mr Dyke said the popularity of the school had taken its toll on the building.

He said: “As soon as the school day ends and we’re not using the facilities, the community clubs are.

“We have a network of schools across Castle Point and Rochford and the community relies on us to keep fit and active.

“At the end of the day, that is what it’s all about.

“It is so important to encourage children to keep fit early on and get them to think positively about PE, because it impacts hugely on the rest of society, like the health service.”

All students sit GCSE PE, undertake a minimum of three hours of activities a week and are encouraged to link up with community clubs to take up less mainstream sports, such as archery.

The school has even created three tailor-made sports programmes to cater to pupils’ strengths and inspire as many as possible to enjoy PE.

These include basketball and football, badminton and aerobics, as well as trampolining and gymnastics.

My Dyke added: “I would rather we inspired 200 children to leave Year 11 and continue to live healthy, active lifestyles than have four leaving us to become the next big athletes."