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UK Athletics

Indoor City Challenge 2007 Competition Launched

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UK Athletics Competitions Department have announced that this winter’s UK Indoor City Challenge will offer quality club athletes the chance to chase £15,000 prizes.


There will be £4,500 up for grabs in each semi-final with an extra £4,000 at the final. Among the rewards are two warm weather training packages worth £1,500 each courtesy of WGT Sport; and numerous rewards from UK Athletics (UKA) sponsors including Adidas kit packages and trainers plus Powerbreathe units. In addition, all teams are helped with travel expenses, accommodation and lunches.


The first semi-final at Glasgow’s Kelvin Hall on 21 January will match reigning champions Sheffield against Belfast, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Manchester and Newcastle.


The second semi-final at Lee Valley, London, on 28 January will enable London North to entertain Birmingham, Bristol, Cardiff, London South and Oxford at the latest indoor track to be opened in the UK.


The final at the EIS, Sheffield, on 18 February will feature the first three teams in each of the semi-finals plus the next best two teams.


To make sure everyone is aware of these opportunities, the UKA Competitions Department is emailing every athlete on the Trials and UKA database, every coach and every club in England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales with details.


Indoor City Challenge (ICC) Coordinator Paul Aldridge said: “Our aim is to ensure that the athletics fraternity knows all about it. We provide a competition designed specifically for the needs of top club athletes aspiring to improve. We reward them with prize money, prizes, accommodation, travel expenses, first class arenas and an inspirational atmosphere. They reward us with PBs galore. It’s a great deal all round!


”Every team manager will be helping us chase the right athletes – along with Derek Redmond, Michelle Dunkley and Spencer Barden, the UKA Senior Coordinators for sprints, throws and jumps, and endurance.”


Redmond, the former Olympic athlete tasked with inspiring the next generation of UK sprinters to aim high, said: “This is a great competitive series as not only does it offer high quality competition for athletes, it also fits in perfectly with the SPAR Sprints Initiative that is in its third year.


“The Spar Sprints Initiative is aimed at Under 17s and Under 20s in all sprints including the hurdles. The overall aims are to raise the standard of coaching, provide competition opportunities and raise the standard of sprinting in the country and I feel the Indoor City Challenge compliments what we are trying to achieve.”


Barden, who has moved seamlessly from winning cross country titles to paving the way for endurance athletes to pursue success, believes that a clash of dates between the first ICC semi-final and the UK Cross Challenge in Cardiff’s Blackweir Park on 21 January will sharpen athletes’ focus on their prime targets.


He explained: “There’s no 4km in the World Cross Country Championships this year, so it is unlikely the short course runners will make the trip to Cardiff. You’d expect our top 800m, 1500m and 3000m athletes to be looking at the ICC to sharpen their form ahead of the European Trials.


“Sam Ellis won the 800 for Sheffield at last winter’s ICC Final on his way to taking the European Champs bronze medal in Gothenburg in the summer. It’s quite exciting to contemplate how many might take Sam’s route from the ICC to the Worlds in Osaka next summer.


“For the longer endurance runners who are aiming for the World Cross in Kenya, Cardiff will probably be the last major outing before the Trials, which are unusually early this winter so that the seniors can go away for warm weather training to acclimatise for Mombasa.“


Steve Lewis, who used victory in last winter’s ICC Final as a stepping-stone towards winning the pole vault bronze medal at the Commonwealth Games, said: “That was a pretty good meet – a good standard of competition. The field was good with not too many people in it, so there wasn’t a lot of hanging about.”


Lewis, who is fully recovered from the wrist he broke in July, added: “This winter’s venues are very good, which always helps. If I’m around, I’ll definitely do it again!”


Cherry Alexander, UKA Head of International / Competition Management, said: “The UK Indoor City Challenge provides the highest quality of competition possible for top club-standard seniors and Under 20s just below international level. And the athletes have responded magnificently to the new concept in its first two years.


“There were 83 personal bests in the ICC last year, including Steve Shalders’ Welsh record in the triple jump. Yet most encouraging of all was the team spirit generated: the cacophony of support during the 2200m medley relay at the climax of the final almost lifted the lid off the EIS Arena and the first four teams crossed the line within three-tenths of a second of each other. Now, that’s competition!


“This year’s extra incentive for the athletes is to aim at the qualifying standards for the Norwich Union GB team for the European Indoor Championships to be staged at Birmingham’s NIA on 2-4 March. Both ICC semi-finals are before the European Trials, so the athletes have extra chances of impressing the selectors!”


As in the first two years of this competition, athletes will represent the area in which they live, not by the location of their athletics clubs. Eligibility of university students will be determined based on the athlete’s birthplace or family home and not their university address.


So athletes from throughout Northern Ireland will represent Belfast. Athletes from all over the West Midlands are eligible to compete for Birmingham. Athletes from South-West England will be in the Bristol squad. Cardiff will have the pick of athletes from all over Wales. Edinburgh will be the title of the East of Scotland team and Glasgow the title of the West of Scotland team. London North is for the northern boroughs and Essex while London South is for the southern boroughs, Surrey, Kent, Sussex. All athletes from North-West England will represent Manchester while North-East England will represent Newcastle. Oxford will select from Berkshire, Oxfordshire, Buckinghamshire, Bedfordshire, Hertfordshire, Cambridgeshire, Suffolk, Norfolk, and Northamptonshire. And Sheffield take their pick of athletes in Derbyshire, Leicestershire, Lincolnshire and Nottinghamshire as well as Humberside and Yorkshire.


For more details about the competition, plus a list of the team managers and their contact details, visit the Indoor City Challenge section of this website.  For any other queries about the challenge then please e-mail Paul Aldridge.