Lord Coe makes Sheffield return to celebrate the steel of champions

PIC: Scott Merrylees
PIC: Scott Merrylees
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HE is one of the steel city’s most famous sporting sons.

And yesterday Lord Coe returned home to see how Sheffield is promoting health, wellbeing and sporting excellence through the legacy of the 2012 Olympic games, which he helped bring to the UK

Double Olympic champion in the 1500m, he came to celebrate the world-class athletes that Sheffield has helped on their way to greatness – including himself.

Lord Coe said: “I’m very proud of my association with this city – I moved here nearly 50 years ago. Sheffield was the basis of everything I did in my athletics career so I have an emotional attachment, but I’m particularly pleased and excited by the way Sheffield has used sport to offer young people many more opportunities than they would possibly have had.”

Lord Coe was shown around the 35-acre Olympic Legacy Park – the biggest London 2012 legacy project of its kind in Europe.

“The best definition of legacy for me is what is it that you leave behind after you’ve had a great event,” said Lord Coe.

“I think Sheffield has grabbed that – and not just in a single element. They’ve brought three elements together – the elite, the participation, and the education.”

A giant photo was unveiled in the English Institute of Sport (EiS) Hall of Fame to honour the sporting achievement of IBF heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua, who trained in Sheffield’s EiS on his road to success.

Lord Coe, who developed his talent after joining Sheffield’s Hallamshire Harriers running club aged 12, also met sports science students at Sheffield’s new University Technical College.

The UTC, specialising in healthcare and sports science, opened at the end of September and is supported by Sheffield City Council, The Sheffield College, both of the city’s universities and the Chamber of Commerce.

Principal Sarah Clark was pleased to be able to show Lord Coe around the £10m building. “There has been a huge amount of success here in terms of sport – it’s really exciting stuff to the students to have someone of that status and experience here.”

Lord Coe said: “The very fact that there are venues and facilities where young people can be doing their own thing alongside some of the best athletes in the planet is an extraordinary inspiration.”

The IAAF President then visited another site in the Olympic Legacy Park – Hallam University’s Advanced Wellbeing Research Centre (AWRC).

When building work is finished the AWRC is set to become the most advanced research and development centre for physical activity in the world, aiming to create ‘innovations that help people move’, tackling the key issues of static levels of physical activity and rising obesity while attracting new jobs and investment to the area.

Professor Steve Haake from Sheffield Hallam University said Lord Coe’s visit reinforces the fact that the Sheffield is the best place to develop Olympic legacy.

“Sheffield has some movers and shakers. We have good people who are really passionate about the population – we have got ordinary people doing extraordinary things.”

In the afternoon Lord Coe officially opened the new £16m Graves Health and Sports Centre which has swimming pools, tennis courts, fitness studios and a gymnastics and trampolining centre.