USA Track & Field back in Birmingham ahead of IAAF World Championships
More than 150 athletes, officials and staff representing USA Track & Field (USATF) are staying in Birmingham at the end of July, ahead of the IAAF World Championships.
Birmingham is hosting the official training and preparation camp for the USATF team, which includes eight individual gold medallists from the 2016 Rio Games and four defending World Champions.
Birmingham City Council’s sports events team has organised the camp, with training sessions being offered at the Alexander Stadium, the High Performance Centre and in Sutton Park plus accommodation and transportation needs carefully co-ordinated to ensure that everything runs smoothly. This year's camp follows on from the city's successful hosting of a similar camp for the American team in 2012, ahead of the London Olympic Games.
Dawn Harper-Nelson, 100m hurdler and double Olympic medallist who won gold in 2008 and silver in 2012, said: "I do love coming here, I don't have to worry about not having things - Birmingham have done it right.
"You have the perfect facilities for indoor and outdoor here. I don't have to worry how the weather will be - the track is great, the hurdles are here and the blocks. Birmingham have done it right."
Alongside the training camp, a community sports festival will take place in Perry Park, next door to the Alexander Stadium, on Friday 28 July, with hundreds of 10 to 16-year-olds from Perry Barr, Ladywood, Small Heath and Sparkhill attending. The sports festival will give these young people the chance to take part in more than 10 different activities including athletics, tennis, rugby, netball and martial arts. Representatives from USATF will attend the sports festival to support and encourage the youngsters taking part.
Councillor Ian Ward, Deputy Leader of Birmingham City Council said: “We are delighted to welcome USATF back to Birmingham, as they prepare for the IAAF World Championships in London. We’ll be providing the team with excellent training facilities and ongoing support throughout their stay.
“Many of the American athletes are regular visitors to the city because of the number of international athletics events that Birmingham regularly stages, so I’m sure the city feels like a second home to many. Training camps such as this provide a valuable economic impact for the city and I’m delighted that young people from across Birmingham will also have the opportunity to meet some of these global athletics stars at the sports festival. I hope this opportunity will inspire them to lead active lives and to fulfil their sporting potential.”
The Alexander Stadium, which is the main training facility for the US team, has a proud history of staging a huge variety of athletics events including major events like the Müller Grand Prix Birmingham (part of the IAAF’s Diamond League), the British Athletics Team Trials and the English Schools Athletics Championships, as well as school and borough sports days for local children. The stadium was recently earmarked as a key venue in Birmingham’s bid for the 2022 Commonwealth Games and plans for refurbishing and enhancing the stadium, should the city win this bid, have been unveiled.
A second training camp for the Jamaican team is also being held in the city, at the University of Birmingham, with the likes of Usain Bolt and Elaine Thompson fine tuning their preparations for next month’s IAAF World Championships in London.
Both teams have been invited to a civic service at Birmingham Cathedral to wish them well before they head south for the start of the IAAF World Championships on Friday 4 August.
Athletes from both teams will be expecting to return to Birmingham straight after the IAAF World Championships, to take part in the Müller Grand Prix Birmingham, which will be held at the Alexander Stadium on Sunday 20 August and many will also be aiming to be back in the city next March when Birmingham stages the IAAF World Indoor Championships at Arena Birmingham (also known as the Barclaycard Arena) from 1 to 4 March 2018.