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UK Athletics

grabarz and hudson-smith launch sainsbury's indoor grand prix

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Hudson-Smith Grabarz

7 November 2014

European 400m silver medallist Matthew Hudson-Smith and Olympic high jump bronze medallist Robbie Grabarz will launch the Sainsbury’s Indoor Grand Prix in Birmingham today, with a special athletics masterclass followed by the lighting of the iconic sky needles on the NIA, to be re-launched as the Barclaycard Arena on 2nd December.

The Sainsbury’s Indoor Grand Prix will take place at the central Birminghamvenue on Saturday 21st February 2015.

Wolverhampton-born Hudson-Smith and Birmingham-based Grabarz will lead a masterclass for Birmingham youngsters from King Edward VI Handsworth School and Nishkam High School, Perry Barr, and then Hudson-Smith will light the sky needles after dark.

Hudson-Smith said, “I’m really excited to launch the Sainsbury’s Indoor Grand Prix and hope lots of people will come to support Britain’s athletes at the Barclaycard Arena in February.

“2014 has been an amazing year for me and I’m planning to build on this next season. I’m not that much older than many of the children in the masterclass today and I hope I’ve inspired some of them to follow their dreams as well.”

“Lighting the sky needles at the arena tonight will be fantastic and I’m sure they will look spectacular.”

Grabarz missed most of the outdoor season due to planned knee surgery in July but is back in training and looking ahead to 2015.

The Olympic bronze medallist said, “The Sainsbury’s Indoor Grand Prix is a fantastic event and I’ve always enjoyed competing there.

“Birmingham is the home of British athletics and it’s great that we have one of the biggest indoor meetings with the best athletes in the world.

“Everything’s going well with my training at the moment and I’m definitely aiming to be back competing in February.”

British Athletics’ Major Event Director Cherry Alexandersaid, “The Sainsbury’s Indoor Grand Prix is one of the world’s premier indoor athletics meetings and is a fantastic opportunity for people to watch some of the greatest international athletes compete in the heart of Birmingham.

“British athletes have had a tremendous 2014 at the Commonwealth Games and European Championships and they will be ready to take on the world’s best in Birmingham in 2015.”

Tara Hewitt, Head of Sponsorship at Sainsbury's said, "We're proud to play our part in bringing world class athletes to Birmingham in February.  

“As the most prestigious indoor event in the world, the Sainsbury’s Indoor Grand Prix is a great way of showcasing talent and inspiring audiences, young and old, to get involved with sport.”

The Barclaycard Arena has a rich history of spectacular athletics events and the Sainsbury’s Indoor Grand Prix will be one of the best yet.

As part of the £26 million redevelopment of the Birmingham city venue, the three iconic sky needles were installed. Standing at 16m, 26m and 20m on the roof of the soon to be Barclaycard Arena, they reach a maximum height of 48m into the air above the level of the canal and will be seen lighting up the Birmingham skyline each night.

The different heights of the three needles symbolise the Gold, Silver, and Bronze podium in Athletics and epitomises the NIA’s rich sporting heritage spanning back to October 1991 when it was first opened by athlete, Linford Christie.

Phil Mead, Managing Director of NEC Group Arenas, said: “The switching on of the Sky Needles brings us one step closer to the delivery of what will be an exceptional, world-class Arena.

“The presence of the iconic sky needles will enhance Birmingham’s skyline and make the Barclaycard Arena an instantly recognisable landmark. It marks another significant milestone in the development as we approach the finishing stages of the project.

“The NIA has a rich 23-year history with athletics and athletic events and it is very fitting to have Matthew Hudson-Smith as a leading British athlete here to switch on the needles."

To buy tickets for the Sainsbury’s Indoor Grand Prix visit http://www.britishathletics.org.uk/british-athletics-series/home/