Milton Keynes Athletic Club chairman wants to build ‘Greg Rutherford Arena’

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MICK Bromilow believes the best way for Milton Keynes to celebrate Olympic champion Greg Rutherford would be to help the city’s athletics club build a new training facility in his honour.

As chairman of Marshall Milton Keynes AC, Bromilow has watched Rutherford develop into one of Great Britain’s most talented athletes since he was just 11.

The club’s Stantonbury home track was the breeding ground for the now 25-year-old Olympic long jump champion, and Bromilow got to watch the city’s most successful sportsman leap to glory on Saturday night, cheering him on amongst a crowd of 80,000.

Now Bromilow says the best way to leave a lasting and appropriate legacy of his achievement would be to build a facility that will help Milton Keynes produce more top athletes like him in the future.

“Four years ago I had the promise of around £500,000 for the club to build a new indoor facility, allowing our members and people from Stantonbury Campus to train somewhere suitable during the winter months,” he said.

“We had the drawings done for a 26,000 square foot arena, but the project was going to cost £750,000.

“It was nothing incredible, just a basic indoor facility. It wouldn’t even have had heating, but it would have given our people somewhere they could train when it wasn’t possible to outdoors.

“We have got to start from scratch now after the credit crunch, but what a fitting tribute to Greg’s achievement it would be if we could do it.

“We are going to approach people for funding now, and having Greg win gold is obviously a major boost in our claim.

“Naming things after him is great, but I think it would be good to build something that will be around for 50 years and give us a chance of developing more athletes of his ability.”

Bromilow says he realised just how good Rutherford was when the boy from Bletchley was about 17, just before he started to break local, national and European junior records in his late teens.

At 18 Rutherford became the youngest ever winner of the long jump event at the AAA Championships, and went on to win the European Junior Championships with a record leap of 8.14m – the same distance as his third best jump in the Olympic final.

European Championship silver followed at the age of 19, but Rutherford never forgot where it all started and throughout the years has maintained strong links to the club.

He most recently competed in the black and orange of MMKAC in May last year, setting a new Southern Athletics League record of 8.20m at Stantonbury, and Bromilow says his gold medal triumph on Saturday night was a huge boost to everyone associated with the club.

“We have so many volunteers who help keep the club going, from people cutting the grass to working in the kitchen,” he said. “Greg has always been very appreciative of them.

“Him winning gold has given us all a massive lift. I’ve had so many emails in the last few days, lots from people who now want to get involved with the club.

“His success is inspiring for all us and we’ll have to wait and see how many new members we get on the back of London 2012.

“That’s why I think building an indoor facility is the best way to honour him. We would call it the Greg Rutherford Arena.”