Sunday 26 October 2014

Peters hails athletics track revamp

Published 28/03/2013 | 13:21

Dame Mary Peters with Lord Mayor Alderman Gavin Robinson at the reopening of the Mary Peters Track at Malone

Dame Mary Peters has said she hopes a new generation of winners will be inspired by the multimillion-pound upgrade to an athletics track named in her honour.

Northern Ireland's only individual Olympic gold medallist said the £3 million refurbishment brought the 36-year-old natural ampitheatre up to modern-day international standards.

The revamp includes a new eight-lane track, a field events area and a floodlit spectator stand at the facility in Malone, south Belfast.

"I congratulate and thank the council for their investment, which I am sure will contribute to the future sporting success of athletes from Belfast and Northern Ireland," said Dame Mary.

"I am thrilled with what I have seen and especially pleased that this will continue to be a legacy for future generations."

In its heyday, the Mary Peters Track, which was built as a tribute to the pentathlete's success at the Munich Games in 1972, attracted some of sport's biggest names. Throughout the 1980s thousands of people flocked to see the likes of Linford Christie, Geoff Capes, Fatima Whitbread and Zola Budd compete.

It is hoped the new track will draw similarly huge crowds to the World Police and Fire Games this summer.

Belfast Lord Mayor Gavin Robinson said: "Winning the bid to host the 2013 World Police and Fire Games provided Belfast with the catalyst to look at updating the venue. Suddenly we had to ensure we had the facilities to host what is second only to the Olympics in terms of the number of competitors and events.

"That proved the catalyst for Belfast City Council to invest £3 million and upgrade the facility. Today we can all look around us and see the result of such an inspired decision. This upgraded venue will attract international events but of equal importance is the fact that these are for the people of Belfast. They are for young people to help develop their skills and hopefully enjoy future success in the athletics field."

Deirdre Hargey, Sinn Fein councillor for South Belfast, said the new track would be a key community asset for future generations.

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