Don Valley replacement Woodbourn Road opens in Sheffield

Woodbourn Road stadium in Sheffield The Woodbourn Road athletics centre has opened after a £325,000 refurbishment

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An athletics track to replace the Don Valley stadium where Olympic champion Jessica Ennis-Hill trained has opened in Sheffield.

About £325,000 has been spent on cleaning and refurbishing the Woodbourn Road facility, which has been closed for two years.

New floodlights have been installed, seating added and improvements have been made to the track.

Don Valley Stadium closed at the end of September and is to be knocked down.

The Woodbourn Road track has been leased by Sheffield Hallam University and will be called the Sheffield Hallam University City Athletics Stadium.

Capacity is much lower than at the Don Valley Stadium. It can seat about 150 people compared with its predecessor's 25,000.

'Centre of excellence'

The city council provided £150,000 towards the improvements, with the same amount provided by Sport England and the balance from England Athletics.

The Woodbourn Road stadium had been criticised by heptathlon gold medallist Ennis-Hill's coach Toni Minichello, who previously said he thought it was "unlikely" to meet a "standard that would cater for all the athletic events".

He said the running track was up to standard, but claimed the facilities for javelin throwing and other parts of the heptathlon were not good enough and could force Olympic champion Ennis-Hill to seek alternative training venues.

But Mark Swales, director of estates and facilities at the university, said the new stadium would be successful.

"We'll be working in partnership with Hallamshire Harriers, Sheffield Athletics Club and Sheffield City Council to really make Woodbourn a centre of excellence for athletics for the Sheffield city region," he said.

"We'll be working with English Athletics as well, they want to bring some of their regional events here.

"We've already got substantial booking in here from schools, school competitions, school athletics as well for next summer."

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