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News release - Issued by University of York

Dame Kelly Holmes to open new athletics stadium at University of York

Double Olympic gold medallist Dame Kelly Holmes is to perform the official opening of the new £2 million athletics stadium at the University of York and take part in a community fun run.

Dame Kelly, who is training for this year’s London Marathon with the aim of raising £250,000 for five charities, will open the new facilities from 10am on 16 April.

The joint City of York Council and University of York-funded facility on Campus West features an eight-lane regional standard athletics stadium, including pavilion and covered seating for 500 spectators.

For Dame Kelly, who won 1500m and 800m gold in Athens in 2004, it will be a welcome return to York as she used to train on the University’s old cinder track when she was based at nearby Imphal Army Barracks.

During the day Dame Kelly will:

• Officially open the new facility at the University’s York Sport Centre
• Lead a community “Run with Kelly” fun run
• Meet members of the City of York and York University Athletics Clubs
• Take part in a community Q&A session

Members of the public, including young families, non-athletes as well as students are welcome to attend the day.

The fun run has sold out but tickets are still available for the Q&A, which is being hosted by BBC presenter Tanya Arnold. The tickets are free and a link can be found here:

Dame Kelly said: “I’m delighted to return to a city I have affection for and to open new athletics facilities that have now changed beyond recognition from those I once ran at.

“It is great to promote state-of-the-art athletics facilities like this, especially one designed for the community. Schools and clubs in the area will really feel the benefit and hopefully inspire a whole new generation of athletes.”

“I am also grateful to the University of York and its students, City of York Council and City of York Athletics Club for their support around this opening and in assisting my marathon fundraising efforts.

“I look forward to taking part in some of the events planned on what will hopefully be a fantastic community day showcasing some fantastic facilities for the people of York.”

Those attending the day will be encouraged to make a donation to Dame Kelly’s marathon fundraising efforts through her five charitable causes: Dame Kelly Holmes Trust; Hospice in the Weald; Myeloma UK; Pickering Cancer Centre and Mind UK.

Following Dame Kelly’s departure, City of York Athletics Club will host ‘come and have a go’ sessions (1.15 – 3.15pm) with anyone invited to come along and try the various athletics disciplines.

Neil Hunter, Chairman of City of York Athletics Club said: “This is a fantastic day for athletics in York. The new stadium will provide opportunities for athletes for all ages and abilities. It is fitting that such an inspirational Olympian will be opening the facility.”

Cllr Nigel Ayre, Executive Member for Culture, Leisure and Tourism at City of York Council, said: “The council is proud to have helped fund and manage the project, along with key partners, to build a facility which supports the future of top class athletics in York.

“This track is accessible to all and will be used not only for competitions but by regional schools, local groups and athletes of all ages and abilities. We’re delighted that gold medal-winner Dame Kelly Holmes is available to officially open the new track.”

York Sport Union President, Grace Clarke, said: “It certainly has been a year of success for Sport at York and I am absolutely delighted to welcome Dame Kelly Holmes to the home of the York Sport Union on behalf of the students.

“Having Dame Kelly on campus; inspiring and literally running alongside our student community, is such a special occasion and one that I am sure will go down in the University's sporting history."

The track, which meets UK Athletics and IAAF standards, has been developed to accommodate athletics within the city and the City of York Athletic Club, who have been relocated as part of the Community Stadium and leisure project.

Keith Morris, University Head of Sport, added: “We have already hosted regional events, schools and other clubs within the city. As is the case with all University sports facilities; this stadium is open to everyone regardless of ability and can be used individually or on a session by session basis.”