Olympic Athlete Unable to Train in Edinburgh

Napier Graduate Lynsey Sharp was turned away from Meadowbank Stadium this week as result of poor ground management.

The Olympic athlete who performed well in the Olympics over the summer, progressing to the semi-final of the 800m, has complained about the lack of professional facilities in Edinburgh.

Sharp said: “The sports facilities in Edinburgh are not up to scratch. Essentially, the track was closed and I couldn’t do my session because the groundsman was on holiday this week”.

Due to the adverse weather conditions this week the Meadowbank track was frozen.  However there is equipment available to de-ice tracks. If the facility had better ground management processes in place, Sharp could have trained despite the frosty conditions.

In June of this year Sharp, who graduated with a 2:1 in Law, was a model student and athlete who successfully managed to balance her intensive study and training.

Sharp Gets Set at Graduation Picture © Edinburgh Evening News.

The Napier Union president Tom Zanelli commented on the matter:

“Well to be honest I think it’s pretty disgraceful that the weather should have any effect on training facilities at that level”.

Sharp is one of the best athletes in Scotland, if not the UK, who needs to train daily. It is extremely important for athletes to follow a specific training programme routinely, therefore for one days training to be completely ruined it can severely affect development.

In further reflection on the incident Zanelli claimed:

“It’s something that needs to be addressed before younger, talented Scottish sportspeople move away down South due to poor facilities”.

In Edinburgh and indeed Scotland this kind of occurrence is not an isolated incident. There is the common opinion amongst elite athletes that Edinburgh Council and the Government withhold funding for sport. As a result, facilities such as Meadowbank are under staffed and outdated.

However government officials claim that a huge amount of funding has been injected into Glasgow in the build-up to the 2014 commonwealth games. Therefore as an unfortunate side effect of this it is apparent that facilities in Edinburgh are falling behind.

The newly elected Edinburgh Napier University Sports president Dan Parker took a more measured approach to problems with sporting venues in the city:

“Scottish weather has a negative effect on our teams and athletes. It hampers training and competition, from October onwards venues become flooded and frozen on nearly a weekly basis”.

What is worrying about this incident and the overall issue with sport in the capital city is that our home grown talent are constantly faced with barriers whether it be our local sporting facilities struggling to cope with the adverse weather, 0r simply a lack of funding made available to elite or amateur sportsmen and women.

Sharp admitted that when she has been unable to access the appropriate training places in the past due to poor weather conditions, she has been forced to train in a walkway which used to be an old railway. A rubbish strewn and dimly lit tunnel is hardly the kind of place an Olympic athlete should be training.

One of Edinburgh Napier’s strength and conditioning coaches, and past football professional, Alex Rawcliffe described the revelation as, “pathetic”.

He went on to say, “More of an effort should be made to implement preventative methods of reducing the effects of snow, ice, rain. It would be great if Scottish sport had access to more funding however most sports persons know that if they want quality services and facilities, they have to travel great distances to get them”.

If the Scottish government has a lack of available funding for the capital’s sporting centres then it is imperative that the organisation and structure of what is available is improved immediately.

Sharp, in one of her latest Twitter posts said “It would appear that, overnight, the groundsman is back from his holiday and they have acquired equipment to de-ice the track”.

The personnel in charge of procedures must be more urgent with their response to adverse weather conditions, otherwise our best athletes will continue to be at a disadvantage.