THE traditional flow of athletics talent from Rotherham to Sheffield has been checked — and is now going the other way.
Rotherham Harriers has always had strong competition from the neighbouring city which boasts some strong clubs in Sheffield and Dearne AC and Hallamshire Harriers.
A £250,000 upgrade planned for Herringthorpe Stadium later this year is a timely boost to the Rotherham athletics community's efforts to get fully up and running after the pandemic.
But aside from that, the prospect of attracting talent from the city neighbours can only be a good thing as Harriers looks to improve in disciplines beyond running.
“The club at the moment is going very well,” said Harriers secretary Steve Gaines. “We have a good squad of young athletes now.
“The direction of travel has always been Rotherham across to Sheffield but we are now getting a good few athletes coming the other way.
“At the moment we are re-structuring the coaching. We have always been a strong running club but we are trying to shift the focus onto jumps and throws at a younger age and hopefully get some wider athletic achievements.”
In line with many other athletics clubs, Harriers have been hit by the pandemic and numbers are still not near pre-Covid levels.
“We are running at the moment at about 50 per cent of the 2019 figure,” confirmed Steve. “Covid has significantly disrupted the number of people who were registered as members.
“Casual runners who have got out of the habit of coming to the club and training with a group, whether they are now running by themselves or doing something differently, I don't know.
“I also don't know whether numbers will climb back up to 320 or 330 once we get restrictions lifted fully.
“We are no different to any club. In fact I suspect most will have been significantly affected.”
Despite that, Harriers have been turning out good results in the competitions held since social distancing restrictions were relaxed.
Added Steve: “We still have a good nucleus.
“Training nights at the stadium are as busy as they ever were but the general numbers are down.
“We are, however, fairing well against all the clubs we are competing against in track and field which would suggest everybody is in the same boat.”