Athletics figures express concerns

Toni Minichiello
Toni Minichiello
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Key athletics figures in Sheffield have expressed concerns over the future of the sport in the city in the wake of the Olympic Legacy Park announcement.

The state-of-the-art sports, research and education park in Attercliffe – including a basketball arena and rugby stadium – on the site of the former Don Valley Athletics Stadium is set to link up with the nearby English Institute of Sport and Woodbourn Road athletics track.

Former sports minister Richard Caborn, the driving force behind the scheme, said there may be potential for Woodbourn Road to be upgraded with indoor, all-weather facilities in future, although it is not part of the park’s current plans.

Toni Minichiello, coach to Sheffield-born Olympic heptathlon champion Jessica Ennis-Hill said: “It’s definitely positive. It’s a positive for those sports and it’s good for the site.

“Unfortunately it’s all a bit ‘possibly, possibly’ when it comes to athletics.

“Long-term for athletics, I’m yet to see anything real or tangible.”

Lewis Samuel, who campaigned to save Don Valley Stadium, said: “It’s good, but from an athletics point of view, I don’t see why they couldn’t have left the stadium there. There was no need to demolish it.

“They could have made Don Valley Stadium the centrepiece and built around it.

“What they are doing is a reasonable use. However, from an athletics perspective, the city has gone back to 1989.”