23.Aug.12 Midlands building on Olympic success
As part of the series of 600 Community Athletics Days organised by clubs across England Amber Valley & Erewash AC held a series of Try Athletics events on Wednesday evenings which gave opportunities for those aged eight to 15 to come along and give athletics a go.
With the club getting word out into the community the evenings saw plenty of new faces getting involved in athletics including more than 40 on the evening we went along.
For some it was the case that the Olympics, and the associated specific opportunity to give athletics a go led to an on-going interest being acted upon. Lisa Cashmore from Ripley explained she had brought her 13 year old son, Ben, along to have a go, “He’s been interested in athletics for ages and one of his friends from school comes along to the club.”
Having seen the events they decided to act on the enthusiasm the Olympics generated, “He loved the Olympics because he was off school he was glued to the TV.”
The club was giving everyone the opportunity to try a number of events throughout the evening. Ben was interested in long jump but was looking to give a number of events a go. Lisa said, “I said to him to try everything, you don’t have to choose what event you want to do now. He definitely wants to join the club.”
Heather Anthony had come along with her daughter Olivia, 11. Heather said Olivia does a lot of dancing but now as a result of the Olympics wants to get involved in athletics as well, “She’s always enjoyed sport and enjoyed doing it at primary school. But Jess Ennis winning was a huge influence on her coming here tonight. That’s her goal, to be our next great heptathlete! She was avidly watching the Olympics with her dad. It has been fantastic - the Olympics really sparked her interest. She is going to join the club, definitely.”
Heather’s friend Jenny Pennington, brought her daughter Brooke, nine. Jenny said, “Victoria Pendleton started it for her – I have never seen her glued to the television the way she was during the Olympics. Brooke has a good level of fitness from dancing. We saw a comment on Facebook asking if anyone knew an athletics club and then followed a link that was left as an answer there.”
England Athletics Board member Mike Heath came along to see the club in action and said, “It is great to see a club pull together to enable this type of event to take place. I was impressed by how well organised and smoothly run the event was. I have seen some of the youngsters who look like they have the potential to go on to become successful athletes. Everyone here is enjoying it and being given a taste for athletics." Indeed some of the club's existing athletes enjoyed success at the England Athletics Under 17 and Under 15 championships at the weekend; Jethro McGraw won the U15 boys' 800m.
Mike continued, "Events like this show the value and importance of our clubs in acting to make the most of the opportunities and interest generated by the Olympic and Paralympic Games. There are people here who otherwise would not have been given the opportunity to find out what a great sport athletics is."
Club coach Karl Ponty said, “This evening has gone well. Several have said they definitely want to join, they are not just interested in the next session and trying it out, they want to join. There has been a lot of talent amongst the youngsters here and they have had a good introduction to athletes.”
The youngsters were all able to do some sprinting, at least one jumps event, at least one throws event and a longer run. Some of the older ones to come down were given the opportunity to try the discus, with the Howler and shot put also being tried by the youngsters.
Club Secretary Julie Feeney added, “We also did a 100 Days to Go event and said after that we should do something like that every year. We have got a good crew here and when we put out a plea for help with something like this people respond.”
The club had 10 people involved in helping with the coaching with club members helping with demonstrations. From what was said, not only by club members but also by those getting their first taste of the sport, the club is going to benefit in terms of members.
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