UK ATHLETICS has welcomed a £40 million funding package from the Sport England Lottery Fund following the abandoned attempt to stage the 2005 IAAF World Athletics Championships at Picketts Lock in North London.
The investment will affect all levels of the sport, from grassroots to elite, and will finance UK Athletics’ On Track plan, which outlines the proposals for the development of the sport over the next five years. The plan has four key aims: to increase participation; improve retention levels; raise standards; and improve the image and profile of the sport in the UK.
"Athletics now has a huge opportunity to realise its aspirations and move forward to achieve its full potential in the coming years," said David Moorcroft, Chief Executive of UK Athletics. "UK Athletics will work together with our partners to deliver the challenging five-year programme that we have developed in On Track."
The funding will complement the annual £3 million investment that UK Athletics receives from UK Sport to support its World Class Performance Programme, which supports the country’s elite athletes. The new money, as well as supporting a number of grassroots initiatives, will also be used to improve high performance services and facilities, particularly in London.
£5 million has been earmarked to improve indoor training opportunities in London and the South East, with a further £7 million for a future English Institute of Sport centre, part of the UK Sports Institute network, at Picketts Lock.
"This funding will give UK Athletics a sound base over the next few years to encourage more young people to enter and stay with the sport and also provide the infrastructure for our world class athletes of the future," said Brigid Simmonds, Acting Chairman of Sport England’s Lottery Panel.
Tessa Jowell MP, Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, echoed her comments, saying that the funding would have a massive impact over the next five years.
"Once the fine detail has been sorted out, it will mean more people will have the chance to try out track and field events, as well as making sure that better coaching and facilities are available to help them develop their talent."