UNIVERSITY students could soon be showcasing their athletic talents in Hereford, and it is hoped that a refurbished facility will make the city more attractive.
Hereford and County Athletic Club’s president Charlie Exton has pledged his club’s support to the incoming students but says the Racecourse track is in need of funds.
The track is ran by Halo Leisure and holds training sessions along with competitions for club members and also holds school events.
Exton says that club and county association has had positive talks with both Halo Leisure and council representatives who fully understand both the health and economic benefits of a high quality athletics venue in Herefordshire.
However, the athletics track is in need of resurfacing and field facilities are also in need of refurbishment.
“The people of Herefordshire must pull together and look to the other side of the current health crisis,” said Exton.
“The track itself needs resurfacing and it needs a proper curve putting in which would mean records could be set.
“The pole vault area and throwing equipment also needs refurbishment.
“We have the equipment from running the athletics club but the key element is the surface of the track which was last year showing significant wear.
“Track meetings last year hosted over 600 competitors and supporters from Wales and the Midlands, the knock on benefits to shops, restaurants and hotels in the city has been significant.
“The Hereford athletics track is also a regional asset as the nearest alternatives are at Newport and Kidderminster.
“So it’s a very important facility to attract the students and all the good economic benefits that brings.”
Exton said that the students coming to Hereford would be offered expert coaching in all disciplines and the opportunity to compete for the club in both league and championship athletics events.
Hereford and County Athletic Club has a record of coaching athletes who have gone on to compete internationally.
Over the years Susan and Angela Tooby trained at the club along with Steve Harris, Paul Jeffs and more recently Jon Barnes and Clara Evans.
The club is looking to recognise these senior internationals with an honours board funded by local organisations and placed at the Hereford Racecourse site to inspire future athletes.
Currently around 150 junior athletes from the age of seven are coached twice a week at the Hereford track.
“Tony Williams and his team of volunteers help to maintain Herefordshire as a force in both regional and international athletics,” said Exton.
“The excellent time and commitment the coaches provide week in and week out provide a solid base for competition and without these selfless individuals grass roots track and field development would not continue.”
Exton said that the club are in talks with the county association to review staging the the Herefordshire County Championships in September so that schools and age group athletes do not miss out on their opportunity to lift a prestigious title.
It is hoped that the championship will stage the highly popular senior 5,000-metre race at the same event making the day a festival of athletics.
Exton added: “These are difficult times but we must all keep calm, carry on and look to the future of county athletics.
“Fitness in general and athletic endeavour are attributes that will help people fight not only the physical illness but adds to mental wellbeing.”