Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

'Young People Are Not Inspired by Stadia and Buildings. It's Heroes That Make a Difference'; A BAD DECISION

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

'Young People Are Not Inspired by Stadia and Buildings. It's Heroes That Make a Difference'; A BAD DECISION

Article excerpt

Byline: Darren Campbell Olympic 100m silver medallist

IFIRST dreamed of becoming an Olympic champion at the age of 12 and as a kid growing up in Moss Side, Manchester, it seemed an impossible goal.

But through the support of my mother and other special people, my dream became reality in Athens in 2004.

So why is my story, and the experiences I've had since, working with kids up and down the country through my Street Athletics Programme, relevant to the debate about the future of London's Olympic Stadium? For me, it comes down to some hard realities.

Young people are not inspired by buildings or stadia, it is heroes, mentors and great coaches who make a difference.

Facilities come next. And for them to make a difference, they have to be the right facilities accompanied by proper investment in grassroots.

This is as true for my sport as it is for any sport. That's why I think that some of my colleagues are missing the point with their total focus on maintaining a running track in a 60,000-seat stadium at the Olympic Park.

Having a shared-use stadium is not sustainable and its inspirational quality has been over-emphasised.

I've played semi-professional football and, from experience, I know it does not work for either sport to share the same stadium.

Football loses all its atmosphere for the fans and the players when played on a pitch inside a track and athletics has no real use for that size of venue.

If the main tenants are West Ham, with all the heavy demands of a League season, I wonder just how often will athletes and kids be able to use the stadium? Football will be the priority and talk of concerts and other activities means that my sport will be a very poor cousin.

In the summer, pitch relaying and preparation will have a big impact on how often athletics can properly use the stadium -- I doubt that the groundstaff will be happy to see javelins and hammers being thrown onto their lovingly tendered turf. …

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