As the best of Britain’s current Olympic hopefuls look forward to winning their place in Team GB for the Rio Olympics at the British Championships on 24-26 June, former Olympic bronze medallist and Commonwealth champion Kelly Sotherton today became the first athlete to be commemorated in Birmingham’s ‘Parade of Champions’.
The ‘Parade of Champions’ will celebrate the array of the world’s greatest athletes who have competed in Birmingham. The ‘Parade’ begins by honouring Sotherton and will be completed to mark Birmingham hosting the IAAF World Indoor Championships in 2018.
Over the next 20 months the public will be asked to select ‘Champions’ whose signature footprint and career achievements will be immortalised in specially designed pavement plaques at the Alexander Stadium.
Kelly Sotherton said: “It’s extraordinary that practically every great legend of athletics has competed in this city.
“I am honoured to be asked to launch the ‘Parade of Champions’ today. I am really looking forward to seeing my name set in stone here at the Alexander Stadium where so many wonderful memories have been made.
“It is great that we are celebrating Birmingham as the home of athletics, especially with this year’s Olympic Games just around the corner.”
The idea to celebrate Birmingham’s global athletics history came from UK Athletics’ Chief Executive Officer Niels de Vos.
Niels de Vos said: “Birmingham is a key city for global athletics and continually plays host to the best athletes from around the world. We are looking forward to the next two years of athletics in the city building up to 2018 but our current focus is the amazing performances we are anticipating from 24 – 26 June when British athletes fight for their place on the GB Olympic team for Rio.
“With the British Championships around the corner, this is a fantastic time to commentate the wonderful moments and individuals who have shaped athletics in Birmingham here and hopefully inspire our athletes looking to compete in Rio.”
They were both also joined by Councillor Ian Ward, Deputy Leader of Birmingham City Council who said:
“This initiative provides a really great way to highlight Birmingham’s rich sporting heritage. Athletics is a special sport for this city and the ‘Parade of Champions’ will continue to reflect this for many years to come.
“It will also provide a wonderful pathway through a series of athletics events, to be staged in the city in the build-up to the IAAF World Indoor Championships, which we are delighted to be hosting in March 2018.”
The public will have the chance to make suggestions as to who they would like to see commemorated in the ‘Parade of Champions’ at Alexander Stadium via British Athletics social media channels.
The British Championships will be staged on Friday 24 - Sunday 26 June. For tickets, please visit britishathletics.org.uk
photos Janos Schmidt