The city of Manchester has been confirmed as next years host for the Sainsbury’s School Games. The announcement was made by Baroness Sue Campbell, Chairman of UK Sport, at this year’s closing ceremony in Sheffield.
Manchester has never hosted the event before and most of the action will take place in the area of the city known as Sportcity, which was purposely built for the Commonwealth Games in 2002, and is now home to Manchester City FC and national cycling, tennis and aquatic centres.
There is also an eight-lane running track, known as the Manchester Regional Arena, with covered seating for around 6,500 spectators that was developed from the Commonwealth Games warm-up track. It regularly holds area age-group championships and is the home of Sale Harriers, who train there and use the facility for league fixtures and open competitions throughout the season.
Besides the outdoor track, there is an on-site 200m banked indoor track, 60m straight and long jump pits, as well as the capability to conduct high-jump and pole-vault competitions inside.
Until recently, athletes were welcomed to Sportcity by the iconic “B of the Bang” sculpture that was specially commissioned for the Commonwealth Games. Standing 180ft tall with 180 tapered spikes made from weathered steel, it was inspired by a Linford Christie quote, and was taken down last year after one of the spikes came free from the sculpture and it was ruled dangerous.
The move over the Pennines will mark the first time the Sainsbury’s School Games has been held in the north west of England. It is an area rich with athletics history, and Manchester is the birth-place of many of the sport’s best-known stars, including Olympic silver medallist Darren Campbell, pole- vaulter Andy Ashurst, Commonwealth 800m champion Diane Modhal, and 400m runner Andrew Steele.
Sainsbury’s will continue to sponsor the event, now in its eighth year, and it is seen as the highlight of the U17 athletics calendar by many. No date has yet been set for next year’s games.