Athletics: Msunduzi getting on track

2011-02-03 00:00

ATHLETICS has an important role to play in Pietermaritzburg now and in the future. That was the message from Msunduzi Mayor Mike Tarr in response to the recent cancellation of road races and lack of progress with the construction of an athletics track.

“I was unaware that there were hold-ups with the athletics track,” said Tarr in acknowledging the role that the recent Witness articles have played in highlighting the concerns of local athletes and clubs.

“The land has been allocated and we still have access to the necessary grant, which amounts to around R2 million a year for management of the facility, so we simply need to get together with the stakeholders to make things happen,” said Tarr, who had arranged the meeting that was to take place yesterday.

“Of course, we need to confirm that the allocated land in Alexander Park meets the needs of the stadium, which will be a key asset in our 25-year plan to make the city an important centre for sports activities.

“Accessibility and a central location will be important,” confirmed Aleck Skhosana, president of KZN Athletics.

“Athletes and schools need to be able to get to the facility and there needs to be sufficient parking and facilities to cater for the numbers. Most importantly the track must be to international standards recognised by the IAAF.”

With most sporting national and international championships requiring separate warm-up and competition venues in close proximity, there are significant benefits in having the diversity of sporting facilities in one zone. Having the track and the Harry Gwala stadium within the confines of the park will undoubtedly enhance the potential of both stadiums.

Surprisingly this was the first time the athletics president had met the mayor since he took office almost a year ago, but the ease with which this next step forward has been achieved is impressive.

Resolving the problems of traffic officers would appear equally encouraging.

“I met with John Hall last week and we believe we have a solution [to the policing of road running],” said the mayor.

Hall, athletics co-ordinator for the midlands, is to identify potential volunteers who will be trained in traffic flow and control in order to work on road events in place of some of the traffic officers.


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