With just over a month until the Aviva Birmingham Grand Prix returns to Birmingham’s Alexander Stadium on 26 August, 200 budding young athletes joined British 3,000m steeplechase champion Luke Gunn (Bud Baldaro) and Birchfield Harriers 400m runner Jarryd Dunn (Keith Holt) today in an attempt to break a Guinness World Record.
The local school children, aged 7-12, attempted to break the Guinness World Record for the most participants in a continuous 100m relay inside one hour, whilst also being given a taste of the sport at the home of British athletics – Birmingham’s Alexander Stadium.
In very wet conditions only 166 youngsters managed to complete the 100m relay inside an hour - the current record stands at 191 – but despite not quite making the record, Gunn, who won the national 3,000m steeplechase title at the Aviva 2012 Trials in June, was impressed at the talent on show and the enthusiasm of the local school children for athletics.
“Seeing so many schools from the West Midlands come down here today for athletics and our world record attempt is fantastic, with such a big summer ahead for the sport.
“There were some really quick guys smashing every leg of the relay and I think if conditions had favoured us a little more, we would have broken the one hour relay world record. It was great to be part of this today and see so many kids having such a great time.”
Gunn, who was injured at the European Championships earlier this month when his knee collided with a steeple – resulting in him missing out on a shot at London 2012 – has set his sights on the Aviva Birmingham Grand Prix at Alexander Stadium as a potential target for his comeback next month.
“I’m aiming to be at the Aviva Birmingham Grand Prix at the end of August. It’s a Diamond League event in front of the home crowd again so I’ll be running against a world class field with a lot of support.
“I think I’m unbeaten on the Birmingham Alexander Stadium track in the last five years, so I’d love to compete – it’s the only thing that’s keeping me going at the moment.”
And despite the rain, the teachers and pupils were full of enthusiasm for meeting the British champion and the Guinness World Record attempt at Alexander Stadium, and were looking forward to returning on 26 August to watch the world’s best athletes in action/
Kenneth Diliar, an 11-year-old from St Brigid’s Primary School in Northfield, ran his leg of the 100m relay and sent out a competitive message to other schools taking part.
He said: “I enjoyed doing all of the athletics activities. So far the day has been brilliant for me. I just hope that St Brigid’s will beat all the rest.”
Una Finnegan, a teacher at St. Catherine of Siena Primary School in Birmingham city centre, was full of praise at the opportunity given to her students.
“Today has been brilliant. It’s a great opportunity for the kids to meet the athletes. We’ve brought years two, three and four and they are loving every minute of it.
“In our school we’ve got no grass and no fields so the world record attempt is a great opportunity for running and taking part. It’s such a big year for athletics over here and Olympic fever has hit.”
Mrs Corrigan, a teacher at St Brigid’s, summed up the excitement.
“It’s a fabulous day for all of the children. It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity for them to meet athletes and get involved in something like this. I’m sure they are looking forward to seeing Luke run again now.”
Back the team and watch the world’s best athletes in action at the Aviva Birmingham Grand Prix on 26 August. For tickets, visit www.uka.org.uk/aviva-seriesor call 08000 55 60 56