Olympian banned from training on grass as it was ‘unsafe’ to cross icy track

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A SCOTTISH Olympian was banned from training at one of the country’s biggest stadiums – in case she slipped while crossing a running track.

Runner Lynsey Sharp asked to run on the grass in the centre of Meadowbank Stadium, Edinburgh, but was refused on health and safety grounds.

A council official told the elite athlete she was not allowed to walk across the 10 metre wide running track to reach the middle in case she slipped on ice.

Lynsey was forced to travel literally miles for an alternative place to train after Meadowbank turned her away

 

And officials later bizarrely claimed the grass could not be used for running because football had been played on it.

Sharp, 22, who is understood to have been wearing spiked running shoes at the time, is furious.

She said: “Every other track in Scotland will be open tonight despite the cold weather but I can’t use one ten minutes from my house.

“It’s a constant battle, it just seems like there’s always something.”

The champion, who won the silver medal at the 2012 European Athletics Championships in Helsinki and reached the semi-finals of the 800m at London 2012, said she regularly has to fight for a training slot at Meadowbank.

She added: “One Sunday a month you can’t get on the track because they have an antiques fair – they also have other fairs that mean you can’t use it or it’s closed for football or for the fireworks.

“It’s the only track of its kind in Edinburgh and this is what we have to contend with?

“It seems like they are only interested in making money with these outdoor events than they are in supporting athletes.”

Lynsey revealed the training snub on Twitter and posted a picture of the allegedly perilous track.

Health and safety bosses said the 10m track was too icy for Lynsey to cross

 

She complained to followers the track itself was closed, tweeting: “Words fail me! #frustrated And people wonder why Scottish athletes move down south?!?!”

She added shortly afterwards: “It gets better. I’m not allowed to run on the grass in-field because it’s a health and safety risk to walk 10m across the track to get to the grass.”

Lynsey was then forced to carry out her training around two miles away in the Meadows park.

She tweeted: “Off to smash out a grass session in the Meadows, anger makes me run faster!

“Essentially, the track is closed (and I can’t do my session) because the groundsman is on holiday this week. [email protected]_Leisure”

Brian Winning, a top Scottish hurdling coach, backed Lynsey and tweeted Edinburgh Leisure.

He wrote: “A tartan track is all weather. Athletes wear spikes. We live in Scotland – it gets frosty. Why [the] weak excuse for closing [the] track?”

A member of a Glasgow running club sympathised with Lynsey and offered her a chance to use their own training facilities.

Gman2012 tweeted: “We’re doing 8 x 800’s tonight at Springburn Harriers – you’re welcome to join us Lynsey.”

Alan Clark tweeted the running star: “Whatever happened to good old common sense? If you walk on ice and slip it’s your own fault not council’s.”

 

“Unsafe”

Edinburgh City Council claim the track was “rendered unusable” by the cold weather despite being gritted.

A £25m plan to rebuild the stadium elsewhere recently fell through after a dispute about the value of the land.

Since then Edinburgh Council has spent £1.4m on repair work to keep the leisure facility ticking over until a permanent solution can be found.

The council’s culture and leisure vice convenor Austin Hart said he understood Lynsey’s frustration.

He said: “We’re really sympathetic to her very specialised training needs and I think Meadowbank also has a hard job in trying to balance all the different demands on it, health and safety as well as the demands to maintain a large, complex public building.”

A spokesman for Edinburgh Leisure claimed that the grass in the middle of the stadium was unsafe because it had been used for football.

He said: “There has been particularly cold weather recently and the frost on the track was so severe it rendered it unusable.

“It had been gritted but due to the severity of the weather was still deemed unsafe.

“The grass in the middle of the track has been used as football pitch and this made it an unsafe surface for running.

“Customer safety is of paramount importance.”

Margo MacDonald, Independent Lothians MSP, said: “There is absolutely no doubt the running track facilities should have been fixed long before now.

“I think the basic problem is money. The sports budget has understandably mostly gone to Glasgow because they have the Commonwealth Games.

“There have been big efforts in Edinburgh but we’ve not had anything like the resources Glasgow has.”

 

 

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