Club of the Year award for athletics club that is heartbeat of sport

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Image captionThames Valley Harriers men

A White City sports club has added to its rich history after being named ‘Club of the Year’ by England Athletics.

The Thames Valley Harriers were awarded the top honour by England Athletics CEO Chris Jones at the England Athletics Volunteer Awards presentation evening, hosted by the Institute of Sport Exercise and Health last month.

The award is part of the double celebration for the club, which was founded in 1887, after its women section were crowned premier division champions this year also. The club meets and trains at the Linford Christie Stadium, which is run by Hammersmith & Fulham Council.

“We are proud to host such a successful and influential club in our borough,” said Cllr Wesley Harcourt, H&F Council’s Cabinet Member for Environment, Transport and Residents’ Services.

“Their work in the community has fostered drive and ambition in many young people who have gone on to become great athletes.”

The Harriers have a good history of past successes, both on and off the track. These include producing its first Olympian, George Traynor, in 1936, the creation of the British Miler’s Club in 1963 under the stewardship of legendary coach Frank Horwill and being a founding member of the British Athletics League in 1969.

The club’s best-known alumnus, and most successful athlete, after whom the stadium was named, is Olympic gold medal-winning sprinter Linford Christie. He remains club president.

The women’s team was created in 1993 and quickly went from strength to strength, with successes including a British Athletics League and cup double in 1994.

In 2005 the Harriers completed a £500,000 project to refurbish the stadium track.

Today the club also has a thriving juniors section and is blessed with a group of dedicated volunteers who help the smooth-running of the many events the Harriers host during the season.

“Three years ago we set ambitious targets to double membership, to raise our competitive performances and to be the ‘heartbeat of athletics’ in the community,” said outgoing club chair, Michael Parker.

“Our success is down to the astonishing 'can do' attitude of our athletes, our coaches, volunteers and our many supporters.”

Among the club’s stars are young runner Zoey Clark, who recently won a gold medal representing Great Britain at the European U23 championships, and cross country runner Chris Smith who continues to excel in both individual and team competitions.

Marathon runner Tracy Barlow has also had a great year, setting the tenth fastest UK time and making her England debut at the Toronto Waterfront Marathon.

The Harriers will host several cross country events on Wormwood Scrubs this winter, with the clubhouse open on Saturday mornings following the 5km Park Run on the Scrubs.

Training sessions on a Tuesday are bristling with around 150 athletes.

For more information visit the Thames Valley Harriers website.