Sheffield hits Olympic pot of gold

Jo Jackson celebrates her victory in the Womens Open 200m Freestyle Final  during the ASA National Championships at Ponds Forge, Sheffield. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Tuesday June 14, 2011. Photo credit should read: Anna Gowthorpe/PA Wire.
Jo Jackson celebrates her victory in the Womens Open 200m Freestyle Final during the ASA National Championships at Ponds Forge, Sheffield. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Tuesday June 14, 2011. Photo credit should read: Anna Gowthorpe/PA Wire.
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SHEFFIELD’s Ponds Forge is hoping to beat London’s Olympic Aquatic Centre to secure the British Swimming Championships for the next two years in a deal worth £1 million a year to the city’s economy.

Details of the proposed agreement with British Swimming have been revealed exclusively to The Star after it was announced that the city has already gained £30 million from this year’s Olympic Games in terms of economic benefit and investment in facilities.

Ben Brailsford, Sheffield Council’s 2012 Olympic Delivery Manager, said: “We are hoping to make a two-year deal with British Swimming to host the British Swimming Championships in 2013 and 2014, which we have held on several occasions over the last 20 years, plus the British Synchronised Swimming Championships for the first time.

“The agreement would also cover the inter-counties championship and youth championships.

“With the Olympics and all the investment in new facilities in London, there is a threat to Sheffield’s position as a host of major sporting events but we have worked very hard to emphasise the benefits of holding national and international competitions here compared with elsewhere.

“Accommodation for athletes in Sheffield is cheaper, for example, and the facilities are closer together.

“This deal would be a testament to the excellent relationship we have with UK Sport, the arm of the Government dealing with elite athletes, and will be worth £1 million a year to the economy.”

Mr Brailsford said that Sheffield has hosted the British Swimming Championships on numerous occasions over the last 20 years, while the inter-counties swimming championship has been hosted at Ponds Forge for the last 18 years and the youth contest for the last 12 years.

He also revealed that Sheffield is hoping to retain the FINA World Diving Contest, entered by stars including Olympic bronze medallist Tom Daley, on rotation with other venues, which are likely to include the Olympic facility in London plus one being developed for the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.

Sheffield has hosted the FINA event for four of the last five years.

Sheffield Council leader, Coun Julie Dore, said: “Being at the forefront of the swimming agreement shows we still have some of the best facilities in the country although there is strong competition.

“However, we do have concerns that cuts to council budgets, which are due to continue until 2020, could hit grassroots sports.

“Council funding covers parks, facilities including Ponds Forge and the Don Valley Stadium, youth activities and sports coaching.”

Several million pounds are provided in total and the council is cutting budgets by 20 per cent in the next financial year.

Sheffield Council cabinet member for culture, sport and tourism, Coun Isobel Bowler, has written to the Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt, Education Secretary Michael Gove and Chancellor George Osborne warning: “We are pretty much running out of efficiency savings and the projected future year-on-year reductions are in danger of doing significant damage to our excellent infrastructure.

“When talking about the Olympic legacy please do not forget the essential role of local authorities in funding facilities for the Jessica Ennis of the future.”

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THE 2012 Olympics have produced sporting gold for Sheffield - with pre-games training camps bringing in £20 million for the local economy and £10 million of investment in facilities.

One in seven of Team GB’s athletes have trained in Sheffield in the run up to the London tournament and the city has also hosted over 70 separate international training camps and sports events.

In the last few weeks before the Olympics, there have been a total of 11 nations, eight varieties of sport and over 250 athletes and officials descending on the city from as far and wide as the USA, Brazil, Russia, Canada and Japan.

Sheffield Council leader, Coun Julie Dore, said: “Sheffield clearly has a great reputation on a global scale to be able to attract such world class athletes and their training camps.

“We will be working hard to continue this momentum over the coming years to keep the money flowing into the city. We have invested much in sport over the years, and at a time when money is scarce it is great to see this is paying dividends for the people of Sheffield.”

A civic celebration is being held in Barker’s Pool on Friday evening to welcome Millhouses gold medal-winning heptathlete Jessica Ennis back home, which is expected to be attended by 10,000 people.

She is also likely to be given the prestigious Freedom of the City.

Other options for lasting recognition of Jess’s achievements, which could even include renaming the Don Valley Stadium in her honour, are being considered.

Coun Dore said there will be a further civic event after the Paralympics to honour other Olympic and Paralympic athletes based in the city.

The haul of medals by athletes who train in Sheffield also includes golds achieved by boxers Nicola Adams, Anthony Joshua and Luke Campbell, all based at the English Institute of Sport, Attercliffe.

Lorenzo Clark, director of operations for Sheffield International Venues, which operates many of the sporting venues used by elite athletes in the city, added: “We are extremely proud of the athletes and the important part they have played in Team GB’s phenomenal Olympic success.”

Sheffield Council, Sheffield International Venues, Sheffield Hallam University and Hospitality Sheffield say they will be working ‘flat out’ to attract athletics training events to Sheffield over the next five years.

The possibility of Sheffield hosting a major international conference on ‘Sporting Legacy’ – selling the world class expertise based in the city to future host cities and event organisers – is also being discussed.

Other spin-offs include £10 million announced by Health Secretary Andrew Lansley at the start of the year to develop a National Sports and Exercise Medicine Centre of Excellence in Sheffield.

The centre, to be created and run by Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, the University of Sheffield and Sheffield Hallam University, will help get people active and treat injuries caused by exercise or conditions caused by lack of exercise.

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SHEFFIELD golden girl Jessica Ennis’s heptathlon triumph was the most positively ‘Tweeted’ event of the whole Olympic games, a study has revealed.

The survey was carried out by EDF Energy, which analysed tweets made during the Games and split them into positive and negative messages.

It found Jessica’s heptathlon win on August 4 generated the most encouraging tweets, with 90 per cent being positive.

The most positive day overall when 76 per cent of posts were favourable was August 1, when Team GB claimed two gold medals in the women’s pairs rowing and cycling time trial.

Other events to send happiness levels soaring were Mo Farah’s wins, Andy Murray’s gold and Lizzie Armitstead’s silver.

But the biggest dip came when Victoria Pendleton and Jess Varnish were disqualified from the women’s team sprint, causing the nation’s positivity to fall from 86 per cent to 71 per cent.

The company also discovered the number of Tweets related to London 2012 in the UK peaked during the opening ceremony at 47,168 per hour.