American and Jamaican athletes attend Civic Service at Birmingham Cathedral
Athletes, coaches and staff from USA Track & Field (USATF) and the Jamaican Track and Field team were invited to a special civic service, which was held at Birmingham Cathedral on Saturday (29 July).
The service, which was led by Rev Canon Andrew Lythall, was also attended by the Lord Mayor Of Birmingham, Councillor Anne Underwood and the Vice Lord Lieutenant of the West Midlands, Beverly Lindsay OBE OD, as well as other city dignitaries. Representatives from Birmingham City Council, who have organised USATF’s training camp and the University of Birmingham, which is where the Jamaican athletes are currently training, were also in attendance.
It was held to celebrate the athletes' visit to Birmingham, and to enable the city to wish them well before they head to the IAAF World Championships in London.
The Lord Mayor welcomed all of the athletes to the city and the cathedral and told the athletes present that they were “role models to people in the city and to those around the world.” She also thanked them for coming to Birmingham and wished them luck in London.
The Vice Lord Lieutenant of the West Midlands gave a reading during the service and Pentecostal Bishop, Mike Royal, addressed the visitors to the cathedral and he told the athletes from both countries that they would be “an inspiration to young athletes” and that “many are inspired by your athletic ability.”
Around 150 athletes, officials and staff representing USA Track & Field, including Olympic and World gold medallists Allyson Felix and Aries Merritt and the fastest man in the world this year, Christian Coleman, are currently staying in Birmingham and are using the city’s Alexander Stadium as their base.
The Jamaican team, currently making use of the brand new eight-lane athletics track at the University’s new Sport and Fitness Club, include 2011 World Champion Yohan Blake and fellow sprinter Elaine Thompson, who won gold in the 100m and 200m at the Rio Olympic Games.
Athletes from both teams are no strangers to the city, with Birmingham regularly staging international athletics events and both are expected to have representatives return to the city immediately 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.
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.