THANKS to an essential injection of funding to upgrade the Isle of Wight's premier running track, official athletics meetings can continue to be held there all year round.

Thanks to the efforts of its principal users, the Isle of Wight Athletics Club, with vital funding support, the track — in the grounds of The Bay CE School, Sandown — has managed to hold on to its coveted England Athletics standards certificate. 

The white lines on the track had become very badly worn, to the point it was deemed no longer meeting required national standards for official competitive events. 

Isle of Wight County Press: Semi-retired solicitor Roger Merry using the new look athletics track in Sandown.Semi-retired solicitor Roger Merry using the new look athletics track in Sandown. (Image: Isle of Wight County Press)

Only specialist companies on the mainland, who are SAPCA (Sports and Play Construction Association) qualified could be used to undertake the repainting work, to the tune of £11,000. 

Some funds were allocated from the Isle of Wight Council, together with a £2,000 grant, awarded to the club from England Athletics. 

The Isle of Wight Sports Foundation and Ryde Harriers running club, which uses the track regularly for training, added a further £1,000.

The sum left an outstanding balance of £5,000 for the Isle of Wight Athletic Club to bear.

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Wightlink, who support many athletes who use the track, backed the project by providing the company travelling to the Island with discounted ferry costs.

However, the Isle of Wight Athletics Club, and other user groups, need to see further upgrades to the sports facility addressed in the near future, through a series of maintenance projects. 

The biggest of them all is an estimated £80,000 upgrade to LED floodlights, to replace the existing 30-year-old lights, which now require constant attention. 

"Without them, the facility will become unusable for six months a year," said leading Island athletics coach, Nick Groocock. 

"Financial difficulties at this time have been recognised, with discussions between the user groups and the local authority mooted to discuss the longer term plans for this wonderful sporting facility."