Athletics is on a roll in wake of Olympics

Witney Gazette: Judy Howard, left, with Emma, Julian and James Moore Buy this photo » Judy Howard, left, with Emma, Julian and James Moore

IF YOU want to shed a few festive pounds, you could try one of the 47 disciplines of Olympic athletics.

With 24 track,16 field, two combined and five road events there is something for everyone, including the javelin, pole vault and hurdles.

Abingdon Amblers Athletic Club tries to provide training for all disciplines, and hires coaches where necessary.

The club’s most popular sport is running, and it offers an eight-week beginners’ course which builds newcomers up from walking and jogging.

Emma Moore, 47, a nurse from Abingdon, joined the club three years ago.

She said: “I was definitely a couch person, and never did much sport at school. But my husband ran the London Marathon and I thought ‘if he can do that, so can I’.”

She joined the club’s Coach to 5km programme, and in eight weeks she ran the Abingdon Park Run.

Last year she ran the Oxford Half Marathon, and finished in two hours and 36 minutes.

“I didn’t believe it was going to be possible,” said Mrs Moore.

“But the group was encouraging, and I went for runs in between group sessions.”

Now she is a member of the club, along with her husband Julian, 48, and their 11-year-old son James.

She also said she sleeps and eats better when she runs regularly.

Club coach Judy Howard, 55, from Wallingford, said: “The Olympics inspired a lot of people to start running.

“And we are expecting the London Marathon in April will inspire a lot more people.

“Anyone can join up, and there is a real mixture at our club. People do it both for pleasure and to compete.

“A lot of people join because they want to lose weight, and it works – if you keep it up.”

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Senior coach Thornton Greenland, from Abingdon, said January tended to be a popular time to join as people make their new year’s resolutions.

“We try to cover all 47 Olympic disciplines,” said Mr Greenland, 65.

For jogging leader Maria Hamilton, the attraction of running is that all you need is two legs and will power, “and a sports bra if you are a lady.”

She said: “You can just put on your shoes and go. Anyone can do it, we have had artists, journalists, young people, retired people.

“The oldest member of the Amblers turned 80 last year.”

  • To find your nearest athletic club visit the Oxfordshire Athletics Association at oxonaa.org.uk

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