City of Norwich Athletic Club hoping to benefit from Olympic spike during already successful year
- Credit: Archant
With athletics under the global spotlight at the Rio Olympics, clubs around the region are hoping to attract new members to the various disciplines of their sport.
Amongst those is City of Norwich Athletic Club (Conac) – which is already enjoying a special 2016.
Primarily based at the UEA Sportspark, Conac saw its membership spike following Team GB's success at London 2012 and now welcomes more than 700 athletes to its club. Following the home Games, Sport England reported a 17pc increase in participation of athletics between 2011 and 2015, ranking the sport second for weekly participation in the country.
So far this year Conac has celebrated a raft of achievements, kicking off with two gold medals at the South of England Under-15 and U17 Championships in January, for Louis Albrow (U15 200m) and Wesley Matsuka-Williams (U17 triple jump).
February saw Conac's U15 girls return from the English Cross Country Championships at Castle Donnington as national champions.
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June brought a new British record for javelin thrower Danny Nobbs, competing in the F54 category at the Northern Athletics Championships in Manchester, as well as Callum Brown finishing a very credible eighth in the hammer at the British Championships at Alexander Stadium in Birmingham – televised on the BBC.
It was gold again last month, with 13 Conac athletes selected for the English Schools Track and Field Championships and Matsuka-Williams winning gold in the U17 triple jump to earn England Schools selection in the UK School International (SIAB), where he finished first in the intermediate boys with a new personal best. Declan Manning also won silver in hammer and bronze in discus at the INAS European Championships in Ankara, Turkey, where he was selected to represent the GB UKSA learning disability team.
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Dan Bainbridge competed at the inaugural European Youth Championships in Tbilisi, Georgia, finishing in 11th place in the javelin.
With high hopes of strong finishes in the East Anglian League, making the tier one final in the Eastern Young Athletes League and with a top-of-the-table position in the Youth Development League, promotion to the Premier One division next year looks almost certain for Team Norfolk, which would mean competing against the very top London clubs.
'Conac is a vibrant athletic club with a broad mix of people of different ages, backgrounds and all with different athletic abilities,' chairman Granville Courtnell said.
'Yes, we deal with the elite end of athletics and are delighted to have some extremely talented members – but we also very much welcome the mass participation runners who just want to get fit but not necessarily want to compete, that will always be their choice.
'You'll experience a real buzz within the club whether it's road running or track and field and be assured you'll be made very welcome and supported whatever your goals.'
For more information about Conac go to www.conac.org.uk or find your local athletics club at www.activenorfolk.org