SW19 might be famous for its tennis but it is also home to the Hercules Wimbledon Athletic Club where our CEO Chris Jones recently enjoyed a visit to the Merton Track facility alongside Lorna Boothe, one of our elected Board members.
The track is a key facility for the London Borough of Merton, serving more than 650 members, local schools and community groups, as well as athletes from all over the country who compete in the club’s highly popular open meetings.
Hercules Wimbledon AC prides itself on offering equal opportunities to people of all ages and backgrounds, which the club’s chairman David Clarke (a former 5000m and cross country international), said reflects the ethnically diverse nature of the local community.
World and European bronze medallist for GB in the 4x400m relay Dwayne Cowan credits much of his success to the support he has received from his local club, Hercules Wimbledon AC. More recently, the club made headline news globally when its sprint coach Patrick Hutchinson was pictured saving a counter-protester amid the Black Lives Matter demonstration in June 2020.
Whilst the club is thriving and has enjoyed a flurry of new membership enquiries post-Olympics, the 30-year-old athletics track in Wimbledon Park is deteriorating and the future of athletics in this London borough is under threat.
The purpose of Chris and Lorna’s visit was to see how well the facility is used across all events and age groups, and support the club’s efforts to engage with the local council in a bid to raise vital funds and re-lay the track before Spring 2023. He also had the honour of meeting key volunteers and presenting some awards to the club’s up and coming athletes (pictured).
Chris Jones commented:
"It was fantastic to meet the volunteers and some of the club athletes and runners at the club. The club has a proud history of producing fantastic volunteers and athletes. The track was buzzing with activity and it reinforced the important work that our member clubs provide in their communities across the country.
If one was to add up the volunteer hours in equivalent time and money then it would be difficult for Councils and other providers to be able to provide such a service which is, in my view, invaluable when it comes to teaching young people both the athletic and life skills that will serve them well forever, whatever their aspirations. An investment in a local athletics club and a track and field facility is an investment in health, community cohesion, education, and many other important aspects of our society."
Hercules Wimbledon AC requires written commitment to the track project if it is to remain fit-for-purpose and the chairman has launched a petition asking the local council for its urgent backing to secure the future of athletics in Wimbledon Park.
Chairman David Clarke, remarked:
"For some it is about improving basic fitness, for others it is a platform to club, county and international honours. The Wimbledon Park athletics stadium offers opportunities to people of all ages, genders and backgrounds, to stay healthy, both mentally and physically, and it is essential that we do everything we can to keep it in good condition for future generations."