Olympic champion to officially open new Academy to nurture north-east’s sporting stars of the future

A Scottish Olympic champion will inspire the next generation of north-east athletic talent when he officially opens the Hydrasun Athletics Academy based at Aberdeen Sports Village on Friday (May 6).

Allan Wells, who took Gold for Great Britain in the 100m at the 1980 Moscow Olympics will perform the honours for the Academy, which aims to nurture talented athletes aged 17 to 23 by providing access to top level facilities and coaching.

He will be joined at the official opening by Brian Whittle - who won the gold medal in the 4 x 400 metres relay at both the 1986 European Championships in Athletics and 1986 European Championships in Athletics. He also competed at the 1988 Summer Olympics in Seoul and is famed for running the third leg of the 1986 European Championships in Athletics final with only one shoe.

Sponsored by Hydrasun, the Academy is managed by three partners Aberdeen Sports Village, the University of Aberdeen and the charity, Blue Horizon.

Aberdeen Sports Village offers access to facilities unrivalled in the north of Scotland including an indoor 135m six-lane running straight, indoor areas for long and triple jump, high jump and pole vault and a state-of-the-art indoor throws cage, providing training opportunities for hammer, discuss, shot putt and javelin.

The University of Aberdeen Sport and Exercise Team support the young athletes with strength and conditioning training and they also have access to the ASV based SPEAR clinic providing help with physiotherapy, sports medicine, podiatry, sports massage therapy and nutrition.

At the helm of the Hydrasun Athletics Academy is ex-professional sprinter and track and field coach from the 2008 Beijing Paralympics team, Eddie McKenna, who is also a Director of charity partner, Blue Horizon.

The innovative partnership has already gained support from established athletics bodies and patrons and it is hoped it could provide the key to ensuring talented athletes reach their full potential.

Nigel Holl, Scottish Athletics Chief Executive said: “This initiative is exactly what we need to see supporting our sport at local and regional level. The partnerships that have formed to provide athletes in and around Aberdeen and Grampian with enhanced opportunities are excellent - proof that local initiative can combine to raise the flag as well as the bar for athletics in this area. Scottish Athletics is delighted to support this initiative, and I know that it will help many young athletes on the pathway to international success."

The Hydrasun Athletics Academy currently has 17 athlete members and during the Academy’s first six months they have already achieved some impressive results including race wins, setting Personal Bests and being ranked within the top six in the UK for their distance. 

Bob Drummond, Hydrasun Chief Executive added “We are delighted to be able to support the Athletics Academy.  The Academy is the result of the commitment and vision of Eddie McKenna and the managing partners to create a programme that provides young talented athletes with development opportunities and support to reach their full potential.  This strategy is strongly supported by Hydrasun and we are pleased and excited to be part of it and look forward to the many athletic success stories it will help to create.  Our collective dream is to bring a Gold Medal back to the North East by 2016!”  

David Beattie, General Manager of Aberdeen Sports Village, said: “With the London Olympics in 2012, Glasgow Commonwealth Games in 2014 and thereafter Rio Olympics in 2016, there has seldom before been such an opportunity to support our future athletic stars to enable them to reach their full potential and perhaps go on to represent their country at a world class level.  The coordination of the world class facilities at the Sports Village, with the Hydrasun Academy, provides a real focus for local talent and is a real asset to the North East.”

The official launch of the Hydrasun Athletics Academy will take place on Friday May 6 2011 at 1pm.  Launching the Academy are special guests Allan Wells, Brian Whittle and Nigel Holl.