The world’s first ever Compact Athletics Facility - facilitated by England Athletics - was opened into the site of Stoke Newington School and Sixth Form in the London Borough of Hackney. The site was opened by world 400m champion and 2008 Olympic gold medallist Christine Ohuruogu. It is the first dedicated athletics facility in Hackney and includes a sprint straight, long jump pit, high jump and throwing areas, as well as a running trail. The inclusion of floodlights also helps make the most of the facility out of school hours and all year round. The bright design is aimed at attracting young people.
Along with the school children, local people can access the facilities out of school hours through the Hackney Hurricanes, an inclusive sports club that has an award-winning disability programme. Indeed, the facility is the only track and field facility in Hackney, an area of high social and economic deprivation, and it gives a permanent base for giving local residents the opportunity to get involved in athletics.
It is certainly having an impact, with one of the school’s PE teachers saying:
“The children are much more enthusiastic about athletics now the facility is in place. It has raised the profile of the sport and we have noticed a greater interest in achieving well in athletics as a result. The after-school club is well attended, too.
“Our students have continued to build on their success in competitions and we have seen an increasing number of students accessing borough teams. We have used the facility to focus on the basic skills in athletics to the benefit of other sports activities that we offer. Having on-site coaches has also allowed us to make the most of the facility.”
The design includes a blue and black coloured, eight lane sprint track and three lane long jump with sand pit, plus seating area, three shot put circles and landing zones, and 250 and 500 metre running trails around the school.
A 17-year-old athlete who trains there added:
“It’s great that I can do athletics on a track now and not just in the sports hall. I watched the athletes run on the track during the Olympics so it was frustrating having to run in a school hall. Now that the track is here it’s great.”
A volunteer for the Hackney Hurricanes agreed:
“It is fantastic that we have the track in Hackney. We have seen a large number of people turn up on club nights and enquire about the track and training. It’s amazing to see the difference in young people who now have the opportunity to train on an actual track in Hackney.”