30.May.12 Basingstoke hosts top athletics event thanks to track extension
Down Grange track in Basingstoke hosted its first British Athletics League competition on Saturday 26th May marking the completion of work to enhance the outdoor sports complex.
For the first time since the athletics track was extended from six lanes to eight, athletes from Basingstoke and Mid Hants Athletics Club were able to compete in the national league event on home soil.
The athletics went well for the home team, with Basingstoke finishing a highly respectable second behind Glasgow city. And cheering them on after attending a celebration to mark the completion of the Down Grange improvement works was the Mayor Cllr Martin Biermann. He was joined by representatives from the athletics club, Basingstoke Hockey Club, Basingstoke Rugby Club, the new Cabinet Member for Communities, Sport and Culture Cllr Elaine Still and local ward councillors.
British Athletics League Chairman and England Athletics Director Michael Heath MBE and England Athletics Vice Chairman Peter King also attended the gathering at Down Grange stadium held to coincide with the first British Athletics League event at the track. Michael Heath MBE commented: "The new track and facilities are a wonderful investment in community sport in the area and for athletics in Hampshire and the South. BAL was privileged to be the first National event at the new facility and the athletes played their part in removing two 20 year old Divisional records from our record books. However, the facility will not just be about top athletes but for those of all ages, shapes and sizes who want to enjoy sport and fitness and be the best they can be. "
The improved stadium and track follows on from England Athletics' recent release of their Strategic Facility Plan; a document to help ensure that priorities are clearly established and communicated to facility owners, users and investors, and to ensure that the process of development and preservation is effective at a local level.
England Athletics have produced this strategy document in part to inform its own work and future investment into local athletics facilities, but also to inform and guide local stakeholders in this vitally important facet of the sport.
The plan is really important to gain local support for athletics facilities as well as directing our direct spend in this area with the current limited resources we have for facilities. The document should help to kick start the process of local dialogue and engagement, thus offering support to the many outstanding volunteers who give up so much of their valuable time. Click here to download the Strategic Facility Plan, (or download from the very bottom of the page) and click here to read more about the Plan.
The work to re-lay and extend the athletics track was undertaken and funded entirely as part of a £1 million project by Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council to upgrade facilities at Down Grange and demonstrate the council’s commitment to maximising the opportunities for the borough presented by the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, in addition to supporting:
- the provision of sport and recreation in recognition of its contribution to the profile of the borough and economic prosperity
- the resident club to deliver high standards of development activity and achieve competitive success
- the progression of a high number of local talented county, national and international athletes
Mike Heath finished by saying, "We thank the authority, its staff and the many volunteers who have made this new facility happen as an example of what can be achieved by members of different sports uniting to a common purpose."
Photographs by Stewart Turkington
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