TRACK superstar Mo Farah has thrown his weight behind plans to redevelop Meadowbank Stadium – saying it can play a vital role in creating “the next generation” of the Capital’s top athletes.
In an exclusive interview with the Evening News, the double Olympic and five-time World Championship gold medallist spoke of the essential part local stadiums play in producing talent of the future.
Athletes like Michael Johnson ran world class times there and for young athletes to run on the same track, in the same stadium, is a big motivation.Mo Farah
The £43 million revamp would provide indoor and outdoor athletics tracks alongside 3G synthetic pitches for rugby, football pitches, an eight-court sports hall with 500 permanent seats and a gymnastics area.
Farah said: “Edinburgh has a great history in athletics and it would be a real shame to lose the stadium.
“We need to have facilities to inspire the next generation.”
He added: “Athletes like Michael Johnson ran world class times there and for young athletes to run on the same track, in the same stadium, is a big motivation.”
Council chiefs last year warned that the city has only five years to save the 45-year-old stadium – built for the 1970 Commonwealth Games – from closure due to its increasingly run-down condition.
Farah, Britain’s greatest ever distance runner, will be in the Capital this weekend as he participates in Saturday’s Great Edinburgh Winter Run.
The athlete said it was important to speak out about the value of local facilities ahead of the event which will no doubt prove inspirational to amateur runners.
Farah said he was “looking forward” to participating in the race and noted that it would be a “good test” for him.
He said: “I haven’t competed in this race for a few years and it is always good to run in front of the Scottish crowd.
“The race will be a good test to see how my training is going.
“It will be my only cross country race of 2016 and I know I will be up against some athletes specialising in cross country.
“It is going to be tough.”
Unfortunately, this will only be a whistle-stop visit for Farah, who will not have time to visit any of the Capital’s many sites while here.
“I don’t normally have a lot of time – my main focus will be on the race,” he said. “I also have to leave quite quickly after the race to continue my training, which is pretty intense.
“My favourite thing about Edinburgh is the people – they are always very friendly and supportive when I have been there in the past.”
Event director Alex Jackson said: “We’re thrilled to be welcoming Mo back. Mo previously triumphed over the 8k at this event in 2011 but this will be his first cross country race in five years.
“We’re hoping the event will mark the start of a successful season for Mo as he starts his journey towards the Olympic Games in Rio this summer.”
Entries for the Pure Gym Great Edinburgh Winter Run, which takes place on Saturday, are still open. Visit www.greatrun.org/ednews to enter.