East Grinstead & District Athletic Club was formed in 1978 and has taken part in a variety of competitions since then. We are a friendly club where we all know each other and welcome all newcomers – everyone has a chance to sprint, throw a discus, jump as high or as far as we can, run on roads or run over cross-country.A number of our members have won County Championships and over 100 athletes have represented Sussex in inter-county fixtures. In 2012, we had our first representative gain international honours for England. And we have undoubtedly introduced athletics to a many people in East Grinstead.As well as organising our own training and coaching, we organise the annual East Grinstead and District Primary Schools’ Cross-Country Championships. This event is held in and around the East Court Playing Fields in early October. There are separate races for boys and girls, and there can be as many as 150 in each of these races. This is an exciting day for all those running, for their teachers and for their parents – and all the necessary arrangements are made by East Grinstead Athletic Club. One of the winners from many years ago has since represented Great Britain Under 20s. Results are made available here.
Most of our current senior athletes joined the club when they were 11 or 12 – and they went through a gradual introduction to athletics. We believe this is the proper way to introduce athletics to young boys and girls. One of the joys of athletics is that, unlike most sports, there is a wide range of activities – sprinting, jumping, throwing, hurdling and running longer distances – that can be tried and enjoyed. And the excitement that can be generated by a relay – perhaps especially in training – has to be seen to be believed.
Young athletes, when they join the club, are kept together and will do most of their early training in their own group. They will gradually be introduced to all of the events by the specialist coaches, but we will also ensure they are taught about the importance of warming-up, stretching and warming-down.
We must also ensure that young children learn the various track and field disciplines so that they can enjoy their athletics in a safe environment.
For example we will teach them what they should look out for in crossing a track – if they don’t look then they might find themselves walking into the path of an adult sprinter at full speed. Similarly we will teach them the necessary discipline for the throwing events – it is obvious that ill-disciplined javelin throwing can become extremely dangerous.
It is a very important part of our job to teach young athletes to compete and train safely – for both themselves and for all other users of the various facilities.
As athletes grow it is inevitable that they will look to specialise in a more limited range of events. They will then pass under the control of one of the club coaches, who will arrange a training programme suited to the talents and ambitions of the athlete. Such training will depend on the amount of time the growing athlete wishes to spend on athletics.