Holmes firmly behind track legacy plans

LONDON’S Olympic Stadium will retain an athletics track after the 2012 Games, regardless of who moves in – and more people will benefit as a result, says Dame Kelly Holmes.

The future of the Stratford Olympic Park’s centrepiece is still shrouded in uncertainty with less than two years to go until the first starter’s pistol is due to be fired in the capital.

West Ham are one of the leading parties interested in occupying the arena after the Games, when the capacity will be significantly reduced from its initial 80,000 seats.

But the east London football club have had to accept that the running track will remain, despite the difficulties it poses to tenants, as London looks to deliver on its promise of an athletics legacy.

Hammers fans may not agree but Holmes, who won 800m and 1500m gold at the Athens Olympics in 2004 and visited the Stratford stadium just two weeks ago, insists that is exactly how it should be.

“The way it’s going to go is the track will stay,” Holmes told City A.M. “The debate is about how big the capacity will be: 80,000 or 25,000.

“Even if West Ham come in the track has to stay. It happens all over Europe – most stadiums are track and sport.

“Part of the Olympics is the legacy and that means it’s accessible. If there are two sports in there that means more people will reap the benefits.”

Of more immediate concern to Holmes, and indeed all British athletics aficionados, is the
upcoming Commonwealth Games in India.

The event, which starts next week, has been overshadowed by delays and security fears, but Holmes, who is Commonwealth Games England president, is still looking forward to it.

“The controversy hasn’t affected my enthusiasm at all,” she added.

“There is always going to be controversy surrounding the Games but we had that with Athens where they were still planting trees on the day it opened. Delhi is probably a bit further ahead than that.

“The Games are a platform, a stepping stone for many young people. From an athletes point of view it is so overwhelming [at big competitions]. It is giving athletes a good idea of what it’s all about.”

Dame Kelly Holmes was speaking at the launch of Aviva Street to School. For more information on Aviva Street to School please go to www.aviva.co.uk/street-to-school