School Sport: Pupils help celebrate Lee Valley anniversary
- Credit: Taka Wu
Youngsters from Tower Hamlets and Newham compete at special athletics event
Pupils from St Mary & St Michael School in Tower Hamlets and Newham’s Curwen School were among 10-year-olds from across London helping Lee Valley Athletics Centre celebrate its 10th anniversary at a Junior Schools athletics competition.
The pupils took part in 10 events, including sprints of 60 metres, 200 metres, 600 metres, and 4x200metres; plus the 60 metre hurdles, long jump, standing vertical jump and indoor javelin, to mark the 10-year occasion.
The competition was held exactly 10 years to the day that Baroness Tessa Jowell, then Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, opened the prestigious state-of-the-art Athletics Centre in Edmonton in January 2007.
The world class venue has since welcomed top athletes, including nine-times Olympic champion sprinter Usain Bolt, and as well as helping to nurture the next generation and growing new talent, it has been the training base for Olympic medallists such as triple jumper Philip Idowu, Olympic long jump champion Greg Rutherford and athlete Natasha Danvers.
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Half of the Team GB track and field team also used the centre for training before London 2012 and centre manager Mick Bond handed out medals to the winners of the team competition and congratulated the youngsters.
“It was our tenth birthday and what better way to mark the occasion than with a Junior Schools’ challenge,” he said.
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“We are proud to have seen the centre grow from small beginnings to the renowned venue it is today, providing a key facility for the community. It has attracted a wide following, from elite athletes and clubs to schools and casual athletes, while also building up a close relationship with the local community.
“We have seen almost 1.5million people through our doors since we opened and can boast an average 4,000 visitors a week and 500 daily. This venue remains the best used stand alone Athletics Centre in the UK .”
The first class training venue’s 200 metre indoor athletics track with permanent banking and a first floor sprint track with changing rooms and support facilities below, are accessible to all users and has been purpose built to provide top class facilities for disabled people.
There is full accessibility for wheelchair users, provided by a network of slopes, eliminating the need for lifts in the multi-storey building.
The centre is home to the Enfield and Haringey Athletics Club and, in partnership with the Local Community Sports Coach, has a thriving regular programme for disabled athletes as the only such facility in the South East among five athletics centres in total across the country.
Lee Valley Athletics Centre was the first of a new generation of sports venues for Lee Valley Regional Park Authority which was designed with both Olympic standard and community use in mind.
It led the way for Lee Valley’s planned new generation of world class sporting venues such as Lee Valley VeloPark, Lee Valley White Water Centre and Lee Valley Hockey and Tennis Centre, all offering facilities for both the community and for elite sport.
As well as holding key athletics events, the venue acted as host to the Invictus Games with Prince Harry in 2014, which Prince Charles and Prince William also attended.
Shaun Dawson, chief executive of Lee Valley Regional Park Authority, said: “We are delighted to celebrate this decade of achievement. This state-of-the art athletics centre has been a great success, serving the sports and local community as a hub for sport and activities for athletes of all levels.
“Our focus has been on giving schools, community groups and others the chance to try athletics in a top class training venue with first class facilities for people. It means that sports enthusiast all over the area can train in an inspirational setting - and on the same track as the world’s best athletes. We hope to continue this success throughout the next decade.”
As well as being a first class sports facility, the £16m Athletics Centre, designed by London architects David Morley, received a Commendation in the Best Built Project category at the 2009 London Planning Awards.
The centre has helped people to develop skills in sprints and hurdles, jumps, throws and relays, with training by experienced coaches.
There are also regular and new courses for both adults and children at the centre and a full programme of events and courses can be found at visitleevalley.org.uk/athletics or by calling 020 8344 7230.
Lee Valley Athletics Centre has a number of events lined up in the coming months, including the London Indoor Games on January 21-22 and a Minithon for budding young athletes for school years three to seven on February 25.