Phil Healy at the reopened athletics track at the MTU Arena. Photo: Domnick Walsh/Eye Focus

Re-opened MTU track boosts Cork athletics

Cork finally has an operational running track once more after MTU officially reopened its athletics track at the MTU Arena in Bishopstown following resurfacing works on Monday.

This meant the 70th Cork City Sports event was able to go ahead on Tuesday, the day after the official re-opening.

Since early March, over 8,000 athletes in Cork have been left without any track after UCC's Sonia O'Sullivan Mardyke track was closed over health and safety concerns due to significant deterioration. It remains closed with the Paris Olympics beginning in a matter of weeks.

The eight-lane running track at MTU is now up to international standard and is ready to welcome local, national and global athletes. The MTU Athletic Stadium has a seating capacity for over 1,080 spectators. The facility caters for all disciplines such as pole vault, high jump, long jump, javelin, shot put, discus and hammer.

The track reopening was carried out in partnership with Athletics Ireland.

Hamish Adams, CEO of Athletics Ireland, said,:“Athletes in Munster and beyond will be overjoyed to see the MTU Athletics Track reopen. The region has been lacking a high-quality athletics facility for some time now, so this state-of-the-art running track will be indispensable to them.”

The improvements to the athletics track were funded through the Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media’s Large-Scale Sport Infrastructure Fund, with these works marking the completion of phase 2. Phase 1 saw the completion of the MTU Sports Arena last year. Phase 3 is expected to see the development of a high-performance indoor athletics training centre, which will involve an approximate 5,000m² expansion of the MTU Arena.

MTU President Prof. Maggie Cusack added: “Following a number of delays, including record bad weather last July and August, it’s wonderful to see the track reopen for the benefit of everyone from local sports clubs to athletes preparing for the Paris Olympics. This is a very special day for athletics in general but also for MTU and the wider community.”

MTU’s Governing Body Chair Jimmy Deenihan commented: “The reopening of the track is a testament to the successful relationship we've had with Athletics Ireland and our local city and county councils and Cork County Board Athletic Association of Ireland (AAI). It’s really a great asset of international quality for sporting talent across Munster.”

The track was officially reopened by Thomas Byrne TD, Minister of State for Sport, Physical Education and the Gaeltacht. Also in attendance were CEO of Athletics Ireland, Hamish Adams; President of MTU, Professor Maggie Cusack; MTU Vice President Finance & Operations, Paul Gallagher; Chair of MTU Governing Body, Jimmy Deenihan, and President of MTU Students’ Union Cork, Richard Noonan.

Minister Byrne, said: “As Sport Minister, I am delighted that my department was in a position to provide substantial funding for this wonderful athletics project, which is of regional significance. The opening of Phase 2 of the MTU project also arrives at an ideal time for all fans of athletics in Ireland, following Ireland’s historic performance at the recent European Athletics Championships in Rome, and with the Olympics and Paralympics games just around the corner, they will no doubt inspire more people to use facilities such as this.”