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Track Opening - Press Release
Last edited: Saturday November 16th 2013
The following was submitted for press release but, unfortunately, the Guardian chose not to run the whole text.

Press release

Athletes sprint to state of the art facility

OLYMPIANS of the future couldn’t wait to be the first on the track at the new Victoria Park Athletics Arena on Wednesday night.

The Mayor of Warrington (Cllr Peter Carey) hardly had a chance to cut the ribbon before about 50 children and young people sprinted across to be the first ones to put the new, blue, running track to the test.

They were attending the official opening of the state-of-the-art athletics arena along with members of the Warrington Athletics Club, Jenny Meadows current European Indoor Champion at 800 metres, John Nicolls, Masters shot putt Athlete and Warrington Sports Personality of the Year 2007 and representatives from the council.

The rain certainly didn’t dampen any spirits as races and medal presentations carried on regardless outside, reflecting the passion and enthusiasm of the young athletes and all those involved in the club.

And blue was chosen for the track so they could train on the same colour track as one of their sporting heroes - Usain Bolt!

There was also a huge surprise for one club member Neville Jones. A special plaque was unveiled for Neville to celebrate his 50 years voluntary service with the club!

Two club members who are now Great British Internationals Alex Wort, 19 who is a multi eventer and sprinter James Gladman, 20, made a special trip back from university to be part of the celebrations.

Last but not least there was also some tasty refreshment in the form of two cakes, a chocolate one donated by Chapelford Farm Pub and the 'track' cake was donated by the council.

Warrington Athletics Club will use the track as their home venue and stage North West regional open track and field athletics meetings during the open season.

As the first multi sport facility of its kind in the town, the arena can accommodate competitions from junior to senior elite level, and is fully accessible for disabled users.

The new eight lane, 400 metre, blue athletics track has state of the art sports pitch drainage, specialist materials and has been installed to UK Athletics national quality standard.

There is a new open age rugby league / football pitch in the centre of the track, field events such as javelin and pole vault have been relocated to the outside of the track lanes.

Jenny, who has a special connection with the club, commented on the night:

“I am a big fan of local athletics. I started off coming down to Victoria Park to the athletics meets and I remember Neville being here. Warrington played a big part in my early career and it is lovely to come back here for this event

“It is great to see so much enthusiasm especially when all the kids burst onto the track. This is where is started for me and hopefully is where it will all begin for these youngsters. The club is really thriving and it is thanks to all the volunteers they are a really big part of it all.”

The opening of the track will be a nice lead in to the clubs 130th anniversary year which is only two months away.

Joanie Smythe, chair of Warrington Athletics Club, said:
“I am sure that I can speak on behalf of all the Athletes, Coaches, Parents and Committee to express a huge 'Thank You' to Warrington Borough Council specifically the managers and grounds men for all their valued support that they provide to the club which without we would struggle to provide the outstanding open meeting, training sessions etc.
“In addition, the club have seen great success with it’s athletes gaining international honours at both junior and senior level over the last 40 years, but the club is most proud of it’s achievement and tradition of developing local young athletes to compete to the best of their abilities, to develop them as young adults and to establish friendships that last into our senior years.

“We will be able to write a new page in the Warrington Athletic Club history book with our new crop of youngsters who will make excellent use of this new facility and become the best that they can be.
“This is testament to the hard work and commitment of the athletes, coaches, committee members, parents and grounds men who all work hard to raise the profile of Warrington on the athletics map.
“As a club was rely on the superb commitment of all our coaches which without we would not be able to develop such outstanding athletes and we are always looking for volunteers to help us to continue with this tremendous work.”

Cllr Kate Hannon, executive board member for leisure, community and culture, said:

“This was a superb event, there was a real buzz about the place and we have been inspired by the enthusiasm of all the athletes here tonight. This is a fantastic multi sporting facility that will be a great asset to the town.

“The enthusiasm of the club towards this project shows how much this facility means to them and will attract regional events, which is good for the sport and the town.

“Here’s to supporting and nurturing some future athletics champions of our own to follow in Jenny’s and John’s formidable footsteps. “

This project is part of the council’s ongoing investment into the park and there is more investment and improvements still to come during the next few years.

Left to right, Lucia Meloni, Jenny Meadows, Sam Evans

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