Olympic heptathlon champion Jessica Ennis-Hill’s Rio 2016 preparations are on track following a major upgrade of training facilities at the English Institute of Sport – Sheffield (EIS Sheffield). Venue operator, SIV, UK Sport and Sport England have jointly invested in a new Olympic-standard 130m sprint track in the Athletics Arena at EIS Sheffield – where Jess trains under coach, Toni Minichiello.
To support Jessica and her fellow British athletes, the six-lane track has been re-laid with a high-tech material to simulate the conditions they will be competing on at the Rio 2016 Games. Jessica said:
“I’m really pleased with the help and support of SIV, UK Sport and British Athletics in getting the track upgraded at EISS in time for our final preparations leading in to the coming season and of course Rio. Sheffield has the best athletics indoor facilities in the country I am incredibly fortunate as a local to have this on my doorstep.”
The track, designed for 100m sprint, hurdles and long jump training, is also used by the local community for athletics sessions and for SIV’s athletics coaching sessions, including Athletots, the Athletics Academy and Teen Athletics. SIV is part of the not-for-profit Sheffield City Trust (SCT) whose primary objective is to improve the health and wellbeing of Sheffield people by providing facilities for sport and leisure activities. Paul Hudson, general manager of EIS Sheffield, said:
“This major investment demonstrates SIV’s commitment to providing the very best sports facilities for Jessica and her fellow athletes as well as the local community.
It’s about supporting our elite athletes in their quest for success at Rio 2016 and offering Sheffield’s athletics community, from casual runners to our own Athletics Academy, with high quality training facilities which encourage healthy lifestyles and support up and coming young talent.”
The UK Sport investment has come from its Elite Training Centres partnership with Sport England, which provides world class facilities and environments for athletes preparing for Rio 2016 and beyond. Liz Nicholl, CEO of UK Sport, said: “To achieve world class performances, athletes need access to world class facilities. Thanks to our Elite Training Centres partnership with Sport England, we are able to provide National Lottery funded athletes like Jessica with every opportunity to train and prepare optimally, leaving no stone unturned, on their road to Rio.”
Sport England Director of Property, Charles Johnston said: “It’s vital that we provide the right training environment for our athletes so they can be competitive on the international stage. Thanks to our strong partnership with UK Sport, we have been able to invest £39,780 to help deliver this word-class facility which will not only get the British team on the right track for Olympic glory, but also be a huge asset for Sheffield.”
The new track will play host to its first major event next month when the British Indoor Championships return to EIS Sheffield. The country’s best athletes will gather in Sheffield on the weekend of 27 and 28 February as they battle to be crowned British champion. Heptathlon star Katarina Johnson-Thompson set a new British high jump record at the 2015 event, while Jenny Meadows won her seventh indoor title and British 100m record holder Dina Asher-Smith took the women’s 60m British title.