British Army take part in test event at the stadium which will host athletics at Commonwealth Games this summer

British Army athletes helped put the Alexander Stadium – host of the athletics at the Commonwealth Games and a Diamond League on May 21 – through its paces as they took part in the stadium’s first test event since its £72m makeover.

Over 350 military personnel from regular and reserve units across Wales, West Midlands and East Midlands staged the UK Midlands Army Athletics Championships.

Sergeant Danni Hodgkinson – who has represented England in the 1500m and over 10km – won the 800m in a highly impressive 2:13, despite only recently recovering from a long-term achilles injury.

“It’s a great honour for our service personnel to be the first people using this track, she said. “Only a few weeks ago it was covered in diggers. It’s awesome and what a legacy for the Midlands.

A wide view of Alexander Stadium (British Army)

“I used to train here when I was doing a mental health degree with the Army and ran the British Championships here. It’s the first time I’ve been back. It’s a beautiful track. There’s something about a blue track that I find special, I don’t know why.”

Musa Audu – an Olympic 4x400m bronze medallist with Nigeria at Athens 2004 – also set foot on the new track in Birmingham. It was fitting as the 41-year-old also competed at Manchester 2002 – the last time that England hosted the Commonwealth Games.

“I’ve been to so many big stages like the Olympics but this stadium has a very fast track. I think it’s a good one for the kids coming up and this is an eye-opening event for the local kids around the area,” Audu said.

The internationally famous Red Devils, known as the Army Parachute Display Team, jumped into the Alexander Stadium as part of the closing ceremony where the Army Cadet Forces Massed Bands also performed.

Craig Cooper, Birmingham City Council’s Programme Director for the Commonwealth Games, said: “Hosting the UK Midlands Army Athletics Championships at the redeveloped Alexander Stadium is a proud moment for Birmingham City Council.

“The stadium is truly world-class. I would like to thank the contractors, the project team and everyone involved in making this a reality.

“Hosting the Army Athletics Championships at the Alexander Stadium is just the start of an incredible summer of sport in Birmingham with the Commonwealth Games arriving in July and August.

“The revamped Alexander Stadium will provide enhanced facilities for the local community and existing tenants to use for generations to come and will establish a new teaching base for Birmingham City University. The redevelopment will also make the venue the largest facility of its kind in the UK, giving Birmingham a golden opportunity to reaffirm its claim to be the national home of athletics.”

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