First 2-4-6 designed track opened by Dame Kelly Holmes

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Paddock Wood track opening


First 2-4-6 designed track opened by Dame Kelly Holmes

After a gestation period of almost 20 years, many false starts and hurdles to overcome, Paddock Wood Athletic Club (PWAC) is now the proud owner of a newborn athletics training facility, writes Alan Newman.

The new addition to the family is already a trend setter as it is the first bespoke training track in Britain with a '2-4-6' lane design, built to save on construction costs, while still providing the full range of facilities for sprints, hurdles, middle-distance running, jumps and throws.

The '2-4-6' track is a new concept in the UK with two lanes around the first 200 metres, four lanes for the next 100 metres and six lanes for the last 100 metres.

A hammer cage, shot put circle, javelin area, high jump bed and two long jump pits have been provided to ensure that athletes can train for their own disciplines.

Fittingly, on the final day of IAAF World Championships in the iconic Birds Nest Stadium in Beijing, the metaphorical baton was being passed to officially open Paddock Wood as a new training venue – that might just produce a future champion.

Dame Kelly Holmes, MBE, winner of double Olympic gold medals at 800m and 1500m in Athens in 2004, cut the tape and led around 150 club members, friends and sponsors for an inaugural 400m jog around the track.

Pictured: PWAC Chairman Mike Ridger, Dame Kelly Holmes, and
Greg Clark MP, Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government.

Dame Kelly was hampered by a calf strain picked up the previous weekend, when she ran 1hr 27 min 22 sec in the Reykjavík Half Marathon in Iceland – hopefully there was plenty of ice on hand to cool the troublesome muscle. Also present for the formalities were local MP Greg Clark, Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, the Mayor of Tunbridge Wells and representatives of Paddock Wood Town Council.

PWAC was formed in 1986 and based at the local primary school. In 1996 the club decided it needed an all-weather track to improve athletic standards and to encourage more young members to join. Club membership has grown from less than 200 ten years ago to around 320 – and with the promise of an all-weather training track for members to use these numbers will undoubtedly grow.

More than £200,000 was raised by PWAC towards the £405,000 cost of the track and despite many obstacles this goal has been achieved. With financial assistance from Sport England, Tunbridge Wells Borough Council, Kent County Council and various local companies the track has finally been completed.

Mascalls School and Paddock Wood Primary School, the two local schools, will both be given free use of the track during the day-time, while PWAC will use the track Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday evenings and Saturday and Sunday mornings. The public will have access to the track at all other times and this will be provided by Putlands Sports & Leisure Centre for a small fee. More information on the club's website.

Thanks to Keeley Hoad Photography for use of photos

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