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Athletics club anger at decision to close sports park during track and field season

PUBLISHED: 16:16 29 June 2019 | UPDATED: 08:32 30 June 2019

The Sportspark at the UEA will close for nearly two weeks in July. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

The Sportspark at the UEA will close for nearly two weeks in July. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

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An athletics club has been left scrambling to find a new venue for training after its current centre is set to close for nearly two weeks.

City of Norwich Athletics Club has criticised the decision to close the Sportspark during track and field season. PICTURE: Jamie HoneywoodCity of Norwich Athletics Club has criticised the decision to close the Sportspark during track and field season. PICTURE: Jamie Honeywood

The City of Norwich Athletics Club (CONAC), which has more than 500 members, has criticised the University of East Anglia's (UEA) decision to close the Sportspark for 12 days to host graduation ceremonies.

Athletes use the centre four days a week for track and field sports including running, hurdles, javelin and long jump.

But chairman of CONAC Tony Bradfield said members may have to travel as far as King's Lynn for training due to the lack of specialist facilities in the city.

"You can't throw a javelin in the middle of a school field," he said.

He was initially informed the track would be closed for one week but earlier this month that changed to 12 consecutive days from Wednesday, July 10 to Sunday, July 21.

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He said the closure is "bang in the middle of track and field season" with members training for upcoming competitions taking place in the summer and for the British Championships.

"Not being able to train for two weeks is going to have a big impact on athletes," he said.

Sportspark UEA announced the planned closure in a post on its Facebook page, which states: "We have put a lot of effort into ensuring that the week runs smoothly for both our customers and our visitors during that week.

"However, there will unavoidably be some adjustments to our usual programming and facility availability."

The post has seen a number of people commenting about their disappointment in the decision.

One person commented: "How disappointing for all CONAC members. The children work so hard training throughout the year to be given such short notice at the peak of the competition season."

"There has been no consultation with the club," Mr Bradfield said. "We are one of the biggest clubs that use the sports park, there are so many other buildings they can use. 
"They promote being active and fit and then they do this, it's absolutely phenomenal."

Sportspark UEA has been contacted for comment.

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