LETTER: Keep London 2012 legacy alive

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On behalf of myself, my coach, and my Athletics Training Group, I am writing to endorse the BBH Joint Users Group and express my strong support for the proposal of a dual purpose hall to support the needs for an indoor athletics training facility in Horsham.

I feel that it is extremely narrow-minded, and undoubtedly short-sighted of Horsham District Council to submit plans for a sports centre that does not include such vastly necessary facilities.

I have been an athlete since I was nine years old, training at BBHLC three times a week for the past 20 years. The indoor facility is the backbone of all athletes that train at BBHLC, both for the local club athletes, the supporting districts, and for those who travel upwards of an hour in order to make use of such precious facilities. Facilities which are quite obviously disrespected and disregarded by HDC.

Eight months of every year sees the indoor ‘Tube’ facility packed to the rafters. If HDC were to step foot into the Tube on either a Tuesday or a Thursday night when my group train, they would quite clearly see it is like being in Piccadilly Circus at rush hour. This - quite unequivocally - has not occurred, evident in the unsubstantial building plans submitted by HDC. I happily welcome their presence this winter.

I am part of a talented and dedicated group of junior and senior national and international level athletes from Horsham, Crawley, Brighton, Dorking, Eastbourne, Shoreham, Lewes, Hastings - and myself travelling from Hertfordshire, that rely heavily on the Tube to support our training.

HDC may overlook the Tube as a ‘nice to have’ and ‘unnecessary’, however from a physiological standpoint, thermoregulation is an important consideration not only for athletic performance but also for the safety of any athlete.

During the winter months, it is imperative to remain at an optimal temperature to avoid cold-induced injuries due to decreased blood flow, fallen core temperature and the inability to retain heat in the skeletal muscles.

All of these factors place individuals at risk of injury and/or illness when being forced to perform in sub-optimal temperatures. The Tube prevents this for us. A marked example of where the Tube has helped support the performance of such athletes, is demonstrated by Jade Lally - Commonwealth Bronze Medalist in the Discus.

Another athlete who would see performance hindered by HDC if they were to revoke indoor athletics facilities is Paralympic London 2012 sprint finalist Sophia Warner.

These athletes both heavily depend on the Tube to enable them to maintain their very necessary and specific training schedules in optimal conditions year-round - regardless of external weather conditions.

In short conclusion, I feel it is from poor judgement and lack of understanding that HDC have overlooked the necessity and sheer value that the Tube bespeaks.

It may look like an old, worn out track - what they may not realise, is it has only become this way through the torrent of athletes flooding the facility in need of an indoor training venue.

With sight to the future, and the development of the thousands of new houses HDC are throwing up in the Horsham District, I feel it would be in their best interest to revisit their decision against building an indoor athletics facility and keep the legacy alive that London 2012 so proudly presented us.

HELEN MORTON

Previous Southwater resident, now based in Hemel Hempstead (and travelling twice a week to use the Tube!), KD Tower, Hemel Hempstead