Hopes are high that welcoming top-level athletics back to England’s famous North East venue will inspire the next generation

Brendan Foster and Richard Kilty believe the return of world-class athletics to Gateshead could inspire a new generation of sporting stars.

The Gateshead International Stadium was the venue for Foster’s memorable 3000m world record in 1974 as well as Asafa Powell’s world record-equalling 100m in 2006, while it also hosted the first ever Diamond League meeting to be held in Britain.

The last top-level competition to take place there was the European Team Championships in 2013 and not since 2010 has the stadium hosted an international grand prix meeting but on Tuesday Foster and sprinter Kilty were among those celebrating next summer’s Müller Grand Prix, which will see world-class athletics back in Gateshead on August 16 as well as in 2021 and 2024.

“The return of the Müller Grand Prix to the North East is a huge moment for athletics in this region,” said 1976 Olympic 10,000m bronze medallist Foster.

“Having the best athletes in the world competing once again at the Gateshead International Stadium on 16 August will inspire young athletes and sports fans here, especially with the increased excitement for athletics that an Olympic year brings.”

Photo by Dave Thompson for British Athletics

With a nod to Foster’s world record-breaking exploits of 45 years ago, a group of 10 and 11-year-olds from Gateshead Harriers and Morpeth Harriers will come together at the Grand Prix to take part in a relay during which they hope to match his time of 7:35.1.

“I’ve competed many times at this historic stadium, and have experienced first-hand the support, enthusiasm and warmth of North East sports fans, so the current athletics stars are in for a treat,” added the European and Commonwealth gold medallist.

“The young athletes from local clubs that will also get the chance to race at the Müller Grand Prix are set to have an unforgettable experience which I hope will keep them engaged with the sport for many years to come.”

Over £1.1million has been invested in the refurbishment of Gateshead International Stadium over the last year, with a further investment of £1.3m in stadium facilities to come in 2020 which will include the resurfacing of the track and new floodlighting.

Teessider and former world indoor 60m champion Kilty said: “I’m so excited that the Müller Grand Prix is returning to Gateshead and can’t wait until 16 August. It will mean so much to the athletes from this area to see and, in some cases, get the opportunity to compete on the same stage as the biggest stars in the world.

“Being part of the crowd at an international meet of this calibre, at the Gateshead International Stadium, is an amazing experience, that I believe could inspire lots of North East children to take part in athletics. It will also incentivise young athletes in the region to work even harder to achieve their dream of competing at the highest level.”

» Read more about the return of top-class athletics to Gateshead in the December 19 edition of AW magazine

» Tickets for the Müller Grand Prix go on general sale at 10am on December 19 at theticketfactory.com/british-athletics/online