On Track

English Institute of SportWhat do you associate with Sheffield? Steel and heavy industry? The Full Monty? Cutlery? Maybe it’s The Arctic Mokeys, Pulp, the Human League or Def Leppard? Perhaps you thought of Sheffield Wednesday or Sheffield United?

I wonder how many people would think of world class sports facilities. Probably not many.

I spent today at the English Institute of Sport, one of a number of top class sports facilities in the Don Valley, an area which was once dominated by steelworks. The occasion was my school’s sports day, the first time it has been held at this venue – although hopefully it won’t be the last.

It was also my first visit to the EIS and a bit of an eye-opener. I’d seen the venue on TV – it regularly hosts major events, including the England Indoor Athletics championships (that I have contrived to miss every year so far), so the main arena was a familiar sight. It was fantastic to see it packed with enthusiastic kids running round the track before the events started. The venue was perfect for our sports day: big enough not to feel crowded, with plenty of space away from the track for the kids and parents to watch the events and areas that allowed everyone to move around or find a space to sit and eat lunch. Plus there was a big advantage to being indoors today – we were unaffected by the rain.

Part of the English Institute of Sport‘s remit is to provide specialised coaching and training to elite athletes, a fact I was reminded of by a giant picture of heptathlete and local hero Jennifer Ennis, who trains there. But the EIS isn’t just for the sporting elite, in fact the EIS is for everyone; I was surprised at the number of classes, courses, summer holiday activities and coaching opportunities that are on offer to anyone who is interested.

“Opened in December 2003 the English Institute of Sport Sheffield (EIS Sheffield) is one of the country’s most impressive indoor sports training facilities. Committed to the development of UK sport at all levels EIS Sheffield welcomes the general public, schools & colleges, the local sporting community and the country’s elite athletes to benefit from the state-of-the-art facilities available. “

The irony is that despite having spent sports day in such a marvellous venue, I barely moved all day. I managed the briefest of jogs on the track, but I spent most of the day sitting down recording results, producing lists of finalists and adding up points. Sports day might just prove to have been the most sedentary day of the year for me.

On Track
Inside the main hall. (Click photo to see a bigger version)
I have a much nicer photo showing the place packed with kids running around the track and taking part in field events, but obviously I can’t show you that one, you’ll just have to use your imagination.

Take a virtual tour of the EIS

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