Fun day marks 40 years of Thetford Athletics Club
06:30 02 July 2014
Thetford Athletics Club held a fun day to celebrate its 40th year, with around 100 past and present members joining to celebrate the club’s achievements.
In 1974, former Olympian Bill McKim established Thetford’s first athletics club which initially used the Fort Play Area on Abbey Farm as its training ground.
McKim wore a British jersey as he took to the track in Tokyo during the 1964 Olympics. He took part in the men’s 1500 metres, completing the race in 3:46.80mins to finish fifth in the first heat, which was 0.4 seconds short of qualification.
Over the years, Thetford AC has trained at other venues including the Breckland Leisure Centre and Thetford Academy site but now find themselves split between a location on the Kilverstone Estate, for throws training, and Thetford Grammar School’s playing fields, for coaching in running and jumping.
Thetford AC members past and present met at the Grammar School playing field at the weekend to celebrate the 40th anniversary with a series of fun games and activities.
On hand to share past experiences was club coach Dean Kirton, who holds the distinction of being the sole member left from the opening days of the Club in 1974.
Kirton, who recently celebrated his 50th birthday, said: “A lot of good times have been shared with running partners, coaches and over recent years, with the junior athletes that I have coached in Thetford, and it doesn’t seem five minutes ago that I was the 10-year-old boy joining the club because I enjoyed athletics and had my own dreams and aspirations.
“I have had the pleasure of being supported by, and working with, some great people including coaches Ted Meardon, Vic Holman and George Connochie.
“Thetford AC, like any other club, has faced its share of difficult times and despite the strong showing the club had in the 70s and 80s, there have been times over recent years when numbers at training have been minimal and club membership low.
“It has been thanks to the continuous efforts and commitment of senior throws coach Gary Howe and senior sprint coach Mick Johnson over these difficult years that the club has continued and been given the opportunity to grow again.”
A traditional sports day consisting of egg and spoon, sack race and obstacle course was enjoyed on Saturday.