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Norwich Union UK Championships

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1 December 2007

 

UK Athletics today announced that the Norwich Union UK Championships, which act as the selection meeting for the 2008 Olympic Games will return to Birmingham next year for the first time since 2003.

 

The Birmingham Alexander Stadium will host the event, which doubles as the country's national championships, on July 11 to 13, just one week before the team for the Beijing Olympics is selected.

The decision means Birmingham will once again host two of UK Athletics' marque meetings, with the Norwich Union Grand Prix set for the National Indoor Arena on February 16.

 

The Birmingham Alexander Stadium had been the traditional home for the Norwich Union Trials, hosting the event from 1988 to 1993, and again for nine years from 1995. The meeting has been held in Manchester for the last four years.

 

UK Athletics Chief Executive Niels de Vos said:

 

"We are delighted to be bringing the trials back to Birmingham. The city has an outstanding reputation for hosting world class athletics events and the support our athletes receive from the people of Birmingham will, I'm sure, inspire them to great performances as they aim to book their seats to the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing.

 

"This combined with the Norwich Union Indoor Grand Prix on February 16, which brings the world's best athletes to the National Indoor Arena, means an exciting 2008 for athletics’ fans in the West Midlands.

 

"The reason for the return is simple: when we first took the trials to Manchester in 2004 we had about 350 athletes competing. In four years that figure has moved up to the 600 mark, so clearly Manchester has been an incredibly successful venue for the event. We want to continue that trend, and Birmingham, with its central location and larger capacity, is ideally placed to allow us to ensure as many athletes as possible can compete in the national trials and the public can see a great Olympic qualifying event."

 

The news is a major boost for Birmingham as it seeks to reinforce its reputation as a lead player on the global sporting stage and the announcement follows on from Birmingham's hugely successful staging of the European Athletics Indoor Championships in March.

 

Birmingham City Council Leader Mike Whitby said:

 

"We are all delighted that Birmingham will once again be staging the trials. We are a world class sporting city and athletics is a special sport for Birmingham.

"I know that February's Norwich Union Grand Prix has become a firm favourite on the Birmingham sporting calendar and our highly praised staging of events such as the World Indoor Athletics Championships and the European Athletics Indoor Championships earlier this year have reinforced our affinity with the sport.

"Athletics is coming home to Birmingham and we will do everything we can to ensure that the trials are a success. I look forward to giving the athletes the send off they deserve as they start their journey towards Olympic glory in Beijing."

The event will also be supported by Marketing Birmingham through their '1 Birmingham - We Love Our Sport Campaign' and their Marketing Director, Dave Hodgson, said:

 

"This is another coup for us in what is already a long line of high profile events. Birmingham is a young vibrant city with strong sporting credentials and is a true sporting capital. We host more European and world championships than any other city and it is fitting for us to be the home of the trials for the Beijing Olympic team."

 

Tickets for the Norwich Union Grand Prix are available on 08000 556 056 or online at UKA Major Events.