World champion 400m runner Christine Ohuruogu launched the world’s first ever Compact Athletics Facility in Hackney on September 18 with the help of children from Stoke Newington School.
The Olympics legacy facility, which includes a sprint straight, a long jump straight and pit, a high jump area, a running trail around the school and a heavy throws wall, is the first ever athletics facility in Hackney.
Ohuruogu, who grew up just miles from the new facility, spoke of how she hoped to see future stars of British athletics uncovered on the Stoke Newington track, where she started the first children’s race earlier today. She said: “Visiting schools like this and inspiring the next generation is one of the most rewarding parts of my job. It’s an absolute pleasure to be here to open a brand new type of athletics facility, giving thousands of local kids a chance to take part in the sport that has done so much for me.
She was joined at the launch by an eager class of sports students from Stoke Newington School as well as Hackney Council’s Lead Member for Health, Social Care and Culture, Jonathon McShane, UKA chief executive Niels de Vos, England Athletics chief executive Chris Jones and Sport England’s regional strategic lead Hannah Bladen.
The Stoke Newington School, in hosting the facility on its premises, will have access for its students to run, jump and throw throughout the day, all year round. Headteacher Gammon revealed that she jumped at the opportunity when it was first suggested by Hackney council.
She said: “We are excited to have this facility in our school. I believe that athletics is a great participation sport for everyone and, of course, for some, the facility enables them to develop towards elite performance.”
The initiative was funded by England Athletics (EA), Sport England and the London Marathon Trust (totaling £366,000) and will provide facilities for local schoolchildren and around 400 people from the local community each week, including the much-loved Hackney Hurricanes Athletics Club.
England Athletics chief executive Chris Jones said: “2012 left a positive and indelible mark on communities up and down the land, particularly in London. This facility will contribute hugely as a blueprint for other areas to follow. We are excited by the opportunities this development will bring as we strive to encourage more young people and adults to take part in our wonderful sport.”