Apr 12 2012 By Lizzie Smith
THE Kilmarnock Harriers are about to celebrate their most exciting period in history.
Scotland’s second oldest athletics club will mark its 125th anniversary by setting up home in a new £5.6 million stadium opening this summer.
The Ayrshire Athletics Arena at Queens Drive in Kilmarnock will feature an indoor sprint track and a
dedicated strength and conditioning area.
There will be an eight-lane outdoor track with state-of-the-art MONDO surface, which also covers the supporting areas for pole vault, jumps and throws.
This specialist sporting surface gives the new facility a Grade One classification by UK Athletics, making it suitable for hosting the highest level of athletics events and meetings.
The stadium will officially open on Thursday, June 8 – just in time for the 2012 London Olympics and to attract visiting Commonwealth teams training for the Glasgow 2014 Games.
“It is a dream come true for us,” said Jim Young, Kilmarnock Harriers and Athletics Club president and coach.
“This is the most exciting time since I joined the Kilmarnock Harriers 64 years ago.”
The 79-year-old from Dundonald is the club’s oldest and longest serving member. He was president when the club celebrated its centenary.
Jim said: “This state-of-the-art facility will help our club grow and grow.”
He added: “It will not only enhance the opportunities for young track athletes but indeed for sport in general.
“Most sports require running of some sort.”
Jim is a former club and county champion at 400, 800 and 1500 metres having represented his country at international events.
He started coaching in his mid-30s – and has never looked back.
Jim joked: “I don’t just shout at people.”
As a volunteer, he dedicates more than 15 hours a week coaching in all weathers, drawing up training plans and generally supporting each of his runners.
Jim said: “Having coached athletes to county, district, national and commonwealth games level has given me great satisfaction.
“The same satisfaction comes in helping an athlete reach their personal goal or better still their full potential whatever that may be.”
And that’s why Jim has won countless awards including UK Athletics Volunteer of the Year.
A modest Jim said: “I work with a great team of people, some robust management and excellent coaches that makes my life easy as president.”
The Kilmarnock Harriers currently has 210 members ranging in ages from nine to 79 with 11 coaches.
The club cater for all abilities in athletics, health and fitness, road, cross country and endurance running and the list goes on.
Jim said: “My vision for the club is to have it recognised as the benchmark of good practice in delivering the best coaching sessions for all levels of fitness and ensure athletics in all its forms is made affordable and open to everyone.”