Jess ‘disappointed’ over Sheffield stadium plans

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OLYMPIC gold medallist Jess Ennis has voiced her concerns over plans to close Don Valley Stadium.

The city’s golden girl spoke out during a visit to her former school, King Ecgbert in Totley, where the hall was renamed after her following her success in the heptathlon at the 2012 London Olympics.

Jess, who recently bought a new home in Dore, said she would speak ‘openly and strongly’ of her opposition to Sheffield Council’s plan to close the stadium, where she first took up athletics and where she still trains.

Council chiefs claim the stadium - built for the 1991 World Student Games - costs £700,000 a year and needs £1.6 million of repairs.

Closing it is one of a number of options being considered by the local authority, along with the closure of Stocksbridge leisure centre.

Jess said it would be a ‘huge shame’ if Don Valley closed.

“I have some great memories of there,” she said. “It’s where I started my athletics career, and to see it demolished would be a massive disappointment.

“I think we achieved so much as a country at the Olympics in London, and to lose some great facilities is sending out a wrong message.

“I train there, I have trained there for years.

“There are lots of athletes who train there and, in the summer, when the weather picks up, numbers increase and there’s even more participation.

“It’s about finding a way to use it efficiently but allowing it to be used for its main purpose - athletics - and keeping it where it is.

“I think there are lots of decisions to be made but I will speak openly and strongly about how I feel regarding Don Valley.”

King Ecgbert School headteacher Lesley Bowes said Jess’s visit to the school had been ‘inspiring’.

“I read out a statement she wrote in Year 6 in which she said she was fast at 100 metres but thought she would probably get better!” she laughed.