Compact Athletics Facility at Stoke Newington School in Hackney
The world’s first ever Compact Athletics Facility was opened in July 2013, after receiving a £150,000 grant from The London Marathon Charitable Trust. Integrated into the site of Stoke Newington School and Sixth Form in the London borough of Hackney, the site was opened by world 400m champion and 2008 Olympic gold medallist Christine Ohuruogu.
Dreamt up by England Athletics, it is the first dedicated athletics facility in Hackney and includes a sprint straight, long jump pit, high jump and throwing areas, as well as a running trail. Along with the school children, local people can access the facilities out of school hours through the Hackney Hurricanes, an inclusive sports club that has an award-winning disability programme.
The site provides much needed and affordable recreational facilities for both the educational and wider athletic communities. The inclusion of floodlights also helps make the most of the facility out of school hours and all year round. The bright design is aimed at attracting young people.
It is certainly having an impact, with one of the school’s PE teachers saying: “The children are much more enthusiastic about athletics now the facility is in place. It has raised the profile of the sport and we have noticed a greater interest in achieving well in athletics as a result. The after-school club is well attended, too.
“Our students have continued to build on their success in competitions and we have seen an increasing number of students accessing borough teams. We have used the facility to focus on the basic skills in athletics to the benefit of other sports activities that we offer. Having on-site coaches has also allowed us to make the most of the facility.”
A 17-year-old athlete who trains there added: “It’s great that I can do athletics on a track now and not just in the sports hall. I watched the athletes run on the track during the Olympics so it was frustrating having to run in a school hall. Now that the track is here it’s great.”
A volunteer for the Hackney Hurricanes agreed: “It is fantastic that we have the track in Hackney. We have seen a large number of people turn up on club nights and enquire about the track and training. It’s amazing to see the difference in young people who now have the opportunity to train on an actual track in Hackney.”
Under the leadership of head teacher Annie Gammon and head of PE Jo Byrne, the school achieved excellent results at the 2014 London School Championships. As Bob Smith of England Athletics puts it: “The facility is the only track and field facility in Hackney, an area of high social and economic deprivation, and it gives a permanent base for giving local residents the opportunity to get involved in athletics.”
Trust chairman John Bryant said: “The London Marathon Charitable Trust is delighted to welcome this revolutionary athletics facility. Available space is hard to find in London but the Marathon’s backing ensures we can provide sport for thousands of young people. They are the grassroots and from them will come a rich harvest – of both elite and everyday athletes – which is the true legacy of the London Olympics.”