19.Sep.12 Track2Track Relay builds Olympic legacy
There weren’t that many people at London’s Olympic Park at 1am on Sunday 9th September – apart from a team of runners from Winchester and District Athletic Club (WADAC).
WADAC had organised a Track2Track relay to celebrate the 2012 Olympics and Paralympics, which ended on Sunday. The route from the Olympic Park to the University of Winchester Athletics Stadium at Bar End was 100 miles long, so an early start was essential. The 100 mile route was mostly on well-marked long distance paths and off-road. Along the route, more than 40 runners took turns to carry a baton containing a scroll summarising the ongoing public petition for a new community sports and leisure centre in Winchester.
Once the baton arrived in Winchester, it was carried four lengths of St Swithun’s School pool by swimmers from Winchester City Penguins Swimming Club, before being run through the city by junior athletes, led by Olympic torchbearers Neil Barker and Sandra Bowers.
At Bar End, the baton completed two laps of the athletics track, carried in turn by runners – including top local athlete Louise Damen – swimmers, gymnasts, netball and basketball players, field and wheelchair athletes. The baton was handed to Steve Brine MP as it crossed the finish line by WADAC’s youngest member, six-year-old Sam Mballa.
WADAC’s Michaela McCallum (pictured above in orange jacket) conceived the idea of a London-Winchester Track2Track relay several years ago, and finally saw her vision realized on Sunday. “It was a wonderful celebration, not only of London 2012 but of our local sports clubs. Their energy and enthusiasm, which shone through night and day as the baton was carried non-stop from the Olympic Park to Winchester Athletics Stadium, clearly demonstrated how we are all working together to build the Olympic legacy.”
Relay organiser Ian J Berry said “I'm so proud of all the runners who carried the Track2Track baton. They showed what can be achieved with a bright idea and hard work – the embodiment of the spirit that will deliver a sporting future for Winchester."
Winchester Fit for the Future is running the petition for a new community sports and leisure centre. Emma Back, who is co-ordinating the community effort, said “We had a whopping 3128 signatures on the petition when the scroll was handed to Steve Brine MP – but now we have even more! The online petition remains open and anyone wanting to sign can still do so via our website www.fit4thefuture.org.” Meanwhile, the relay baton and scroll are on display at Steve Brine’s office on Stockbridge Road.
“Top marks go to all those who ran through the night to bring the baton safely to Winchester. It was an honour to receive it" said Steve Brine MP. “London 2012 has been just brilliant and I know it has captivated my constituents as it has me. Bringing its energy to Winchester as part of the Fit for the Future campaign is a brilliant idea. I fully back the ambition for Winchester to have a world-class sporting facility that may be on the current River Park site or somewhere new. What we need now is a sound evidence based lead from Winchester City Council and I know the administration developing that. Any new facility must be affordable, accessible to my constituents in the city of Winchester as much as to those travelling into Winchester and it must be financially sustainable on its own two feet so local rate-payers are not constantly being asked for more money going forward."