Olympic winning coach Toni Minichiello says £55 million is being spent on a new stadium – while they can’t even spend a penny next door!
While generally accepting proposals for the Don Valley Olympic Legacy Park as a “good use for the site,” he claims the nearby Woodbourn Road facility has so far been deprived in comparison.
“We can’t even go to the toilet because there isn’t one – the only option is to use a loo off-site but it’s horrible and I’d never recommend anyone to use it,” said Minichiello. “I’m concerned as this has directly affected training and it’s appalling as youngsters are now faced with this problem as well as not having a place to shelter from the rain; there’s just a track in place.
“We were promised ‘like-for-like’ facilities at Woodbourn Road when Don Valley was closed but essential facilities aren’t even available.”
Gold medallist Jessica Ennis-Hill’s coach added: “No improvements seem to be on the cards which is shocking.”
The park on the Stadium site will become home to Sheffield Eagles and Sheffield Sharks, and whilst Minichiello welcomes that, he is disappointed athletics has been ‘side-lined.’ He said: “I don’t begrudge Eagles or Sharks, who will finally have a permanent home. “It’s brilliant for basketball and I hope it will help advance the sport. However I am disappointed that athletics was not included in the plan – it won’t benefit from the facility in any way and Woodbourn is at a standstill.”
He believes there should be at least six athletes of elite ability in the city but said: “Athletics is getting shoved to the side.
“I have been very vocal about my concerns but someone needs to be because the sport just isn’t catered for in the city like it used to be. It could disappear from Sheffield if changes aren’t made.”
Despite concerns over the Woodbourn site Minichiello will still be aiming for success with his athletes, in particular Ennis-Hill, who will train at the facility.
“Jess and I have put winning a gold in Rio (2016 )out there” he said. “Things are different this time around as we will be using Woodbourn Road to train instead of Don Valley and she’s had the life changing event of having a baby. Despite this we’ll do the best we can.”