MARK Munro, the chief executive of scottishathletics, has called for government support to build a new multi-million-pound indoor athletics facility – in order to safeguard a lasting legacy for the sport in Scotland from the exploits of the likes of Laura Muir. While the 25-year-old phenomenon from Perthshire has found basing herself at the Emirates Arena no barrier to making giant strides on the world stage, Munro feels we are at risk of losing top athletes such as Muir and aspiring young stablemates like Jemma Reekie if the nation cannot supply an indoor 200m track which can be used all year-round.

With the requirement for Glasgow City Council to generate revenue from various sporting events at this East End venue, this currently isn’t the case - particularly in the lead-up to Christmas when the Emirates Arena can be hosting snooker, badminton, boxing, Davis Cup ties in tennis or whatever else. Consequently, Munro has already had preliminary discussions with the minister of sport on the subject and begun scouring the likes of Edinburgh, Stirling and Falkirk for a suitable site for a project with a cost which is likely to come in at anything between £3.5m to £5m. Little more than a week after Judy Murray presented the case for investment to secure the legacy of her sons in Scotland, it was a signal that the athletics in this country are also prepared to strike while the iron is hot.

“The Emirates Arena is world class,” said Munro. “It is a stunning venue and what they did with the European Indoor Championships was brilliant. For the Scottish championships, for a young kid coming into that arena, it is fantastic too.


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“But Glasgow Life have to generate substantial income to survive, they need to bring in a number of main events,” he added. “Davis Cup tennis, snooker every year before Christmas, badminton too, boxing and a number of different things.

“I’m not criticising the Emirates because it is a world class events venue but it is not a world class training venue because athletes can’t access it often enough. The old Kelvin Hall you could just walk through the door and it is there 24/7. Therefore, we need to look for another solution and that is a priority.

“Neither is the complaint against Glasgow Life because I understand they have to generate revenue but we are looking at it and thinking about how we keep world class athletes in Scotland, particularly eventers, middle distance and endurance athletes. How do we ensure that?

“If you look at Laura, she is probably in the position where she can go to South Africa for three months of the year now but in the years she was studying here, we were always trying to find ways to make sure we maximise the amount of time she could access the Emirates before they closed it for snooker or these other things. Chris Bennett throws in there, Jax Thoirs pole vaults and we have other athletes who travel there from other areas of Scotland as well.

“It would be an indoor barn in effect, not a glitzy Emirates Arena, somewhere else in Scotland, whether it is on the east side of the country, around the outskirts of Edinburgh, or up towards Falkirk, Stirling area, where we have bigger athletics populations. But we need to make sure we have facilities where athletes can train all year round.”


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Munro, previously a board member at Tennis Scotland, feels that athletics is in a better place to build a legacy from the emergence of their stars – because much of the required work, in the clubs, building a national academy and coach education, has already been undertaken. While preliminary discussions about hosting a world indoor championships have been hampered by the capacity of the Emirates Arena, watch this space for further developments from this ambitious governing body in the coming months.

“I remember Judy coming in and posing that same question, at least four or five years ago,” said Munro, who is happier with the amount of outdoor 400m tracks in the country and indoor straights. “I am not close enough to tennis to see where they are right now but I remember coming away from that and thinking from an athletics context how do we guard against these concerns so that we know that the legacy and the pipeline is intact. That is where we worked very hard in 2011. We knew we had this spike of events that we have just had and said the interest in athletics in that five-year period is going to be massive. We have a lot more work to do, we are not resting in our laurels. But what we are seeing and working towards is almost a 100% increase in club membership from 2011-2012. “