To quote from the County Times: ‘The council has worked closely with partners and local clubs to develop a proposal that meets both the current needs and future aspirations of the community and the sports clubs that use the [Broadbridge Heath leisure]centre’.
One of these clubs is Horsham Blue Stars Athletics Club and I want to ask why the needs of the athletics club have effectively been ignored in all the main redevelopment plans - the only option which ensures that the club does not lose the indoor training facility, ‘the tube’, is option 1 in the plans, ie repairing the existing facility but considering the lack of upkeep that has been apparent since the existing building was made I am not convinced that this is a sustainable long term option.
My daughter (age 12) has been with Blue Stars for three years and a large percentage of her training in that time has taken place in the tube. As a talented high jumper (currently ranked number 1 at U13 in the UK) and hurdler (currently ranked number 2 in the UK U13) she trains frequently indoors in the tube area. Training includes practising hurdles and high jump as well as strength and conditioning exercises which form a core part of their strength development as they move up to U15. Having the facility has allowed her to train all year round even when the track is closed due to poor weather.
With no tube where would this be able to be done? There are always a large number of athletes training both indoors in the tube and outside on the track. Children of this age are too young to use the main gym equipment and the freedom the tube provides allows them to get in the habit of regular core strengthening exercise with low injury risk.
The tube is home to pole vault, high jump, hurdles, long jump, indoor throwing and strength and conditioning exercises - the club has a great reputation for producing talented high jumpers, hurdlers and pole vaulters and also attracts the most talented athletes from all over the county who come to BBH to train in the tube as there is no weather to get in the way. Having access to the indoor tube and track in the same location provides an invaluable training resource not met anywhere else in the county.
The Sussex athletics training squad meet monthly in the tube area over the winter. The indoor sprints and hurdles competition held in the tube in Jan/Feb allows athletes to try out the next height hurdles and distance when moving up an age group before the main competitions start in March. This helps build confidence for the main outdoor season and attracts athletes from a range of ages who come to compete. The other closest indoor facilities are Sutton and Ashford which are too far to travel to on a week night after school.
With plans for a huge redevelopment I cannot understand why the needs of this promising athletics group (which has been based at Broadbridge Heath for years) is being overlooked. If a redevelopment is planned why cannot we have an improved indoor training facility rather than none?
Although recent press articles refer to consultation with a range of user groups, the athletes appear to be the only group who are having facilities removed. Over the years, minimal investment has been made in the leisure centre which has resulted in the current deterioration of the building - who is to say that even with a new build this won’t happen again and the whole lot be bulldozed for housing in say 20 years’ time?
There is no clear indication in the plans as to what is happening to the existing athletics track - home to numerous competitions, youth development leagues and open meetings. The popular star track summer athletics camp is also based there (an invaluable camp for working parents and attended by a large number of Blue Star athletes and other children ages 7-12 years). The camp also enables older athletes to gain coaching and leadership skills from working with existing coaches and helping with the programme.
There is huge support locally for the club and athletics in general - the coaches do a fantastic job and have received recognition from British Athletics for their contributions over the years. With Jade Lally training at the track and in the tube there is also a wonderful role model for aspiring athletes to follow. It makes me so cross to see the needs of the athletics group basically ignored over other user groups and I cannot understand why (unless there is a hidden financial agenda)?
Some background information on my daughter (age 12) Ella Hannyngton who has competed for Horsham Blue Stars for three years now - current Sussex U13 county champion for high jump, 70m hurdles, 150m and pentathlon. She is part of the Horsham Blue stars relay team who were U13 county champions this year. Ella has also broken the Sussex county high jump record twice this season (record had stood for 31 years) and currently holds the Sussex U13 league hurdles and high jump records.
After such a promising start we will be devastated if the tube is lost as there is no doubt it will have a huge negative impact on Ella’s ability to train locally and reach her potential as a promising athlete.
Guildford Road, Rudgwick
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