altMay 6 - A new athletics track has been opened in Winchester, boosting the Hampshire town's hopes of attracting a major overseas team to base themself there before the London 2012 Olympics.


The track at Bar End was officially opened by Liz Yelling, who ran for Britain in the marathon at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing.


More than 500 athletes at the Winchester and District Athletic Club were on hand to see the new Olympic standard eight-lane athletics track and facilities for high jump, pole vault, discus, hammer and javelin opened.


Officials are now hoping that the £3.5 million stadium will be used by a national athletics squad as a training base ahead of the 2012 London Olympics.


Yelling said: “It’s fantastic, a real high class running track that you have here in Winchester.


"Hopefully it will help to inspire and motivate a younger generation to take up the sport that I love.


“With this new facility you will no doubt attract and encourage all athletes.


"And with the pending 2012 Olympics you have the facility to support the legacy that the international role models of our sport will leave behind them.”


The Winchester club has been campaigning for a purpose-built track for nearly two decades.


Michaela McCallum, the club’s development officer, said: “It’s a dream come true for the athletics club.


"We didn’t have a base and it’s just fantastic to have a wonderful eight-lane facility here of Olympic standard.


"Our junior section is growing by the day, so much so that we actually have a waiting list in place.”