Jess ‘pushed out’ from city

Woodburn Road athletics track
Woodburn Road athletics track
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The coach of athletics star Jessica Ennis-Hill claims she is being driven from her home city by the closure of Don Valley Stadium.

Toni Minichiello said that he fears Woodburn Road athletics track, which the council is revamping at a cost of more than £200,000 to provide a replacement venue, will not be ready for when the stadium shuts in September.

Toni Minichiello, coach of Jessica Ennis-Hill

Toni Minichiello, coach of Jessica Ennis-Hill

He said heptathlon Olympic gold medal winner Jess will have to look for a new training facility.

“It just feels like Jess is being pushed out of the city. Woodburn Road will not be ready until October,” he said.

Mr Minichiello also questioned the speed at which the stadium is being closed.

He added: “It’s incredibly quick for a council to move from announcing the closure to sending the bulldozers in within a seven month period.

“It makes you wonder whether there is another agenda - have they sold the land?”

Mr Minichiello has previously said the council plans for Woodburn Road are not good enough, because there is no indoor sprint track, and the grass inside the track - which he likened to a ‘potato field’ - needs to be relaid.

Sheffield Council insists work to bring Woodburn Road back into use is on schedule for a September opening - and that land at Don Valley Stadium has not been sold.

The council and former Sports Minister Richard Caborn are proposing a new, smaller rugby stadium for Sheffield Eagles at the site, a school and a ‘sports and exercise medicine’ centre for the site.

Coun Isobel Bowler, Sheffield Council cabinet member for culture, sport and leisure said: “I can assure people there will be no gap between Don Valley Stadium closing and Woodbourn Road re-opening

“It will be a seamless transfer from one venue to another and all athletes will be able to continue their training uninterrupted.”