By Tom Degun in London

London_2012_Olympic_Stadium_with_track_August_5_009August 8 - Britain's Andy Turner, the current European and Commonwealth Champion in the 110 metres hurdles, has claimed that the athletics track at the Olympic Stadium in Stratford must not be removed to make way for football so that athletics can have one great legacy from the London 2012 Games.


The future of the Stadium remains at the centre of a legal dispute following the decision by the Olympic Park Legacy Company (OPLC) to allow West Ham United to take it over following London 2012 and keep the athletics track in place.

Premier League club Tottenham Hotspur, whose joint bid with AEG involves ripping up the track, are hoping to get a judicial review into the decision, while League One club Leyton Orient, the club closest to the Olympic Park, have taken their case to the European Union as they feel that their future would be put in jeopardy if West Ham move there.

The legal proceedings mean that it is still not certain if the track will remain in place but Turner feels that it must because the 30-year-old from Nottingham says it can inspire the next generation of athletics stars.

"When I was 22-years-old, my first ever race abroad was in Barcelona at the Olympic Stadium that they used for the 1992 Olympics," Turner told insidethegames.

"I remember walking into that Stadium with this complete sense of awe that I was running on the Olympic track that legends had run on.

"I was just so taken aback by the arena and it really got my fire burning at the start of my career when I needed it most.

"Since that moment, it has never stopped burning.

"So I think we need to keep the athletics track at the Olympic Stadium in London after the 2012 Olympics if just for the youth of today so that they can get that same feeling I had all those years ago.

"It would be so inspirational for them to say: 'I have been around the Olympic track in London and I want to stay in running and see if I can be the next Usain Bolt'.

"Football has got a lot of stadiums and it has got a lot of money so why not just leave our sport alone and let us have this one great athletics legacy from London 2012?

"To have both football and athletics there is fine and I support that plan but to get rid of the track entirely, like they are still discussing, would be a disaster."

The continuing legal dispute around the stadium means that London's bid to host the 2017 World Athletics Championships could be withdrawn but Turner feels the issue must be resolved as soon as possible because he feels the capital is the best location for the prestigious competition.

andy_turner_hurdles_08-08-11
"I think the World Championships in London would be brilliant," said Turner, who will represent Britain at the 2011 World Championships in Daegu later this month.

"The one thing we know about London and Britain is that we can host brilliant sporting events.

"Whenever Britain hosts a major event, the whole country really gets behind the athletes and supports them.

"I get goose bumps every time I compete at the athletics track at Crystal Palace because the crowd is just so amazing and I know we'll see that again next year at London 2012.

"That is why I would love to see the World Championships come to London and even though I may well have retired by then, it would be fantastic to see that event at Olympic Stadium in Stratford.

"We'll just have to wait and see if that can happen but I know that there is no better place in the world for that competition to take place than here in London."

Contact the writer of this story at tom.degun@insidethegames.biz


Related stories
August 2011: Exclusive - London bid for World Championships doomed to failure unless Stadium solution found warns IAAF President
August 2011: Orient take London 2012 Olympic Stadium row to Europe
August 2011: West Ham "cleared" over Olympic Stadium as Police called in over Tottenham private investigator
July 2011: Exclusive - I want a quick resolution to Stadium row claims Sir Keith Mills
July 2011: Exclusive - London bid for 2017 World Athletics Championships in serious doubt