The club has only been up and running for two months, but it’s clear Ultimate Athletics has got off to a flying start.
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The Dubai-based track and field club was set up in March by Lisa Campbell, a former athlete who has turned her passion into a career.
Campbell was a promising athlete growing up in Wandsworth, South London, but decided to turn her attention to teaching after making the tough choice to give up on her Olympic dreams.
She was head of physical education at GEMS Wellington International School in Dubai for five years and started an after-school athletics club when she realised there was nowhere in the city that catered for hungry young track and field athletes.
After that she realised there was a need for an athletics club where passionate kids could thrive.
Ultimate Athletics, based at Dubai Sports City, is flourishing and has already won New York University games held in Abu Dhabi, as well as winning the most amount of medals at the Middle East Unity Cup held at GEMS World Academy, Dubai.
Campbell, a talented sprinter as a youngster, said: “I didn’t quite go as far as I wanted so decided to become a PE teacher.
“When I came to Wellington 10 years ago I had loads of talented athletes and tried to Google an athletics club and couldn’t find one so started an after-school club.”
She eventually decided to venture out on her own, setting up TC Athletics with the help of Rob Turner.
“I felt like it could become a career and that’s how Ultimate Athletics started,” said Campbell. “Based at DSC is much more practical because with TC I was travelling to schools and carrying hurdles in my car.”
Despite being a fledgling club, it seems to have cleared the majority of hurdles in its way and is now cruising towards success.
“Now the kids have a club to call home. We have 130 athletes of all ages and parents often get involved alongside the kids, so there’s more of an atmosphere here. We cater for everyone.”
Campbell is determined not to stand still, with plans already afoot to construct a long jump pit at DSC, as well as cages for shot putt and discus.
“We’re determined to be a legitimate club and increase awareness, ensuring all disciplines are covered,” she said.
“We want to increase opportunities for athletes and raise awareness of the benefits of athletics.”
British former Olympian high jumper Martyn Bernard was in town recently, while sprinter turned bobsledder Craig Pickering has also visited, both lending a hand to coach the stars of tomorrow.
The future certainly looks rosy, an inter-club competition coming up in November with the UAE Athletics Federation, with its head Ahmed Al Kamali a big supporter of what Campbell is doing.
What: Ultimate Athletics
Founded: March 2015
Geared towards: Aspring athletes of all ages
When & where: Daily (Except Mondays and Fridays) at Dubai Sports City
Contact & info: Visit www.ultimateathleticsuae.com
Membership/Training: For more info visit the website or contact Lisa on 050 2257024
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