Athletics: Jess will meet council officials

Woodbourn Road Athletics Stadium
Woodbourn Road Athletics Stadium

JESSICA Ennis will have discussions with Sheffield City Council about their plans for Woodbourn Road athletics stadium after it was announced that Don Valley Stadium will close in September, writes Richard Fidler.

Olympic heptathlon champion Ennis is a regular at Don Valley for training - particuarly for her track sessions - and also uses the city’s English Institute of Sport.

However, with Woodbourn Road, which closed to the public in July 2011, not ready without a significant amount of work to get it fit for purpose, Ennis admitted she is waiting to see what the council say.

“I’ll be speaking to the council to see what their plans are for Woodbourn Road,” she said. “My main thoughts about Don Valley are ones of disappointment that young athletes won’t have the same luck that I had with being able to use it for training.

“It’s a truly inspirational stadium when you walk in and it’s disappointing that people who may have been inspired by the Olympic Games and the likes of Mo Farah and Greg Rutherford won’t get the benefit of it.”

Ennis is not the only Sheffield athlete to be affected by the closure of Don Valley. Mukhtar Mohammed, who won a bronze medal at last weekend’s European Indoor Championships in Gothenburg will be moving to Loughborough University to base himself with UK Athletics elite group of distance runners.

While 800 metre runner Mohammed’s decision isn’t a direct result of Don Valley shutting its doors, the 21-year-old was at the stadium daily as he converted himself from former Sheffield Wednesday academy player to one of the country’s brightest track and field prospects.

He said he was delighted with his performance at his first major championships as a senior: “It’s a real mental challenge to run three races in three days but the medal is such a boost to me for the rest of the season.”