‘I feel complete’: Team GB sprinter hosts sports day for schoolchildren at her childhood track

Team GB sprinter and Olympic bronze medallist Darryll Neita hosted a sports day for schoolchildren yesterday at the athletics track where she first began her training.

Five schools selected four children from Years 4, 5 and 6 to attend Sutcliffe Park Sports Centre, in Eltham Road, Eltham, to showcase their athletic talent. Events on the day included 100m and 200m races, as well as a javelin throw and relay races.

Ms Neita, 27, who regularly trained on the Sutcliffe Park track throughout her childhood, said: “To see almost 100 children happy to be here, enjoying the sport, hopefully inspiring some of them – I feel so complete right now. 

“I’ve heard a couple of children today say “I was told I was always slow and now I’m the 100m champion today”. Just to see that joy on their faces is amazing.

Winning schoolchildren and Darryll Neita holding their medals after the sports day (Picture: Max Howard)

“The fact that this track is where I did a lot of my track training growing up makes it even more special.”

Ms Neita grew up in Lewisham and regularly returns to stay with her parents when she is not training with her coach in Italy.

Currently preparing to represent Great Britain in the 4x100m relay at the Paris 2024 Olympic Games this summer, the sports day was carefully scheduled around Ms Neita’s race plan.

She said: “The Sutcliffe Park facility is really important to the community here and vital to children like me, who began training here, and now are competing in major competitions.”

Ms Neita was scouted at the Sutcliffe Park centre during a sports day when she was a pupil of Prendergast secondary school in Hilly Fields, Brockley.

She said: “That has led to me becoming an Olympic athlete and travelling the world, competing for Great Britain.

“It’s these initiatives and facilities that can be the beginning of a lifelong career and a future for children. 

Schoolchildren with Team GB water bottles and medals at Sutcliffe Park Sports Centre (Picture: Max Howard)

“To be able to come back here and do something like this for the children and the next generation of athletes from where I grew up feels great.  

“If only one of the 100 children here today is inspired to pursue their dream of being an athlete in track and field it means I’ve done my job.”

Sutcliffe Park’s athletics tracks have recently had a complete refurbishment, and are currently graded by United Kingdom Athletic (UKA) as a Class A standard facility. 

The centre offers athletics courses for children aged between three and 13 years old.

Ms Neita said: “My advice to young people is visit your local track or facility and join the athletics club there once you are old enough, and if you aren’t, keep banging on the doors until you are old enough and they let you in.

“Just get started, put on your running shoes and run and enjoy it.

“I feel like the most important message of today is not to give up. You can achieve what you want to be and anything is possible. Go out there, experience some events, have fun and enjoy the ride.”

Pictured top: Darryll Neita with schoolchildren during the sports day at Sutcliffe Park Sports Centre yesterday (Picture: Max Howard)

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