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UK Athletics boss hails West Ham Olympic Stadium choice

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UK Athletics chief Ed Warner delighted by decision

UK Athletics boss Ed Warner has welcomed the decision to recommend West Ham as the preferred tenant of the Olympic Stadium after the 2012 Games.

The Olympic Park Legacy Company has favoured the West Ham bid over one from rivals Tottenham Hotspur.

London Mayor Boris Johnson and two government departments must still ratify the OPLC board's decision.

"The pledges have been met and there will be a long-term athletics legacy in the Olympic Park," Warner said.

"The retention of the track means we now have a fantastic opportunity to ensure that athletics cannot only make the most of the 2012 opportunity, but ensure that it continues to inspire for generations to come."

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West Ham's bid, in conjunction with Newham Council, had promised to keep the athletics track at the stadium untouched.

However, the Spurs bid would have involved knocking down the stadium and building a new one and expanding the athletics facility in Crystal Palace, rather than keeping the sport in Stratford.

UK Athletics had publicly backed the Hammers' bid along with a number of high-profile Olympians, including Dame Kelly Holmes, Steve Cram and Daley Thompson and Warner believes the sport now has a bright future in Britain.

"We are of course delighted with this recommendation," Warner added.

"The West Ham and Newham bid has shown real vision and gives the UK a unique opportunity for athletics at every level as well as the best chance of hosting future international major events."

This is a victory for the reputation of British sport globally

British Olympic Association

Sydney Olympic gold medallist Denise Lewis has told the BBC that it would have been a 'travesty' if the OPLC decision had gone in favour of Spurs.

"I couldn't think of anything worse, both as an Olympian and someone who was involved in the bidding process," she said.

"The athletics stadium and the track itself was at the heart of everything we spoke about in 2005 when we made the bid.

"It's an Olympic stadium, so you think track and field athletics, and for that not to have played a part would have been unthinkable.

"Now it is down to UKA to make the most of it. I'd like to see it as the heartbeat and the home of athletics and if we don't fight for the sport we will lose our identity."

London 2012 chairman Lord Coe, who had backed the West Ham plans, said he was delighted with the news.

"I would like to thank Baroness Ford, her board and her team at OPLC for conducting such a thorough process in what has been a highly competitive bidding process," he said.

Lewis wants stadium to be 'beacon' for athletics

The decision has also met with the approval of both the British Olympic Association and ParalympicsGB.

"The recommendation is a victory for athletes, for sport and, importantly, for the generations of young people who will see their lives transformed as a result of London 2012," said a BOA statement.

"This is also a victory for the reputation of British sport globally. When the London 2012 bid team stood before members of the International Olympic Committee in 2005 and asked for their vote, they did so with a commitment to deliver a meaningful legacy from the Olympic Games, including the retention of an athletics track inside the stadium.

"This recommendation, if ultimately accepted, will be a major step forward in delivering on that promise."

Tim Reddish, chairman of ParalympicsGB added: "We hope that the performance of the British Paralympians on the track and field in 2012 will inspire a generation of disabled children to take up sport with the dream of becoming Paralympians themselves."



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see also
Olympic bosses back West Ham bid
10 Feb 11 |  London
Coe backs West Ham stadium plans
23 Jan 11 |  London 2012
Spurs 'to dismantle 2012 stadium'
12 Jan 11 |  London
Athletes want stadium legacy met
14 Dec 10 |  London 2012
In Pictures: 2012 stadium lit up
21 Dec 10 |  London
Tottenham stadium plans approved
25 Nov 10 |  Tottenham
London pulls out of 2015 Worlds
04 Nov 10 |  Athletics
Hammers Olympic ground bid backed
11 Oct 10 |  West Ham
Olympic stadium 'must keep track'
07 Oct 10 |  London 2012
UK Athletics boost Hammers plan
09 May 10 |  Olympics


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