Funding to help young athletes

Work to relay turf at Woodburn Road
Work to relay turf at Woodburn Road
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Up to £70,000 a year will be made available in Sheffield to help develop the young Jessica Ennis-Hills of the future in the first scheme of its kind to run in the city.

Sheffield Council is providing the funding to help ‘nurture and develop’ talented youngsters.

The scheme was revealed as the council announced Sheffield Hallam University is being given a lease for the running of Woodbourn Road athletics stadium once the venue reopens in October after a £300,000 revamp.

Woodbourn Road will replace Don Valley Stadium, which is being closed because Sheffield Council can no longer afford its subsidy.

Hallam University said that as well as use by City of Sheffield and Hallamshire Harriers athletics clubs, its students, schools and members of the public will be able to train there.

Mark Swales, director of estates and facilities at Sheffield Hallam University, said: “These plans come just days after the anniversary of the London 2012 Olympics, and we believe they will secure the city’s Olympic legacy for generations of athletes.”

Hallam said its plans include providing sessions where members of the public can try out sports.

Coun Isobel Bowler, Sheffield Council cabinet member for culture, sport and leisure, added: “The venue will be open to everyone and, unlike at Don Valley, athletics will not be having to compete with other sports, such as rugby league, for access.”

Toni Minichiello, Jessica Ennis-Hill’s coach, has been critical of Woodbourn, fearing facilities will not be as good as at Don Valley.

But Mike Corden, chairman of City of Sheffield Athletics Club, said: “The city should be well served at the refurbished arena.”