24 March, 2020

Gateshead return extra special for Harrier Kilty

There was plenty of excitement surrounding last September’s announcement that top-class athletics will return to Gateshead for the first time since 2010 this summer - but for Richard Kilty it meant more than most.

The 2014 world indoor 60m champion was born in Middlesbrough but is a Gateshead Harrier through and through having first stepped on to the town’s world-famous track as an ambitious teenager.

With a rich history of elite athletes hailing from the region, Kilty grew up with hopes of emulating the likes of Brendan Foster, Steve Cram and Jonathan Edwards by becoming the next big athletics star to emerge from the North-East.

But while his heroes were regularly afforded the opportunity to showcase their talents on the global stage on their home track, the absence of international grands prix at the Gateshead International Stadium while Kilty has been in his prime means that this summer’s show carries extra significance for the 30-year-old.

“I’ve made so many memories in Gateshead training and competing, and it’s been disappointing that the Diamond League hasn’t been there for such a long time,” he said.

“The track means a lot to me - it’s where I watched the Golden League for the first time, where I won my first ever English Schools and Tartan Games titles, and I also represented Great Britain there at the European Team Championships in 2013.

“I didn’t really break through until about 2014 so while I’ve been at my best as a fully-fledged international athlete there’s been nothing of the top order at the stadium.

“I’d always hoped the Diamond League would come to Gateshead eventually, so I’m over the moon and I can’t wait to be announced as a Harrier on my home track and try to put on a performance for the people of the North-East.”

While the Müller Grand Prix promises to be a huge occasion for the athletes competing, Kilty believes the North-East crowd will be out in force to celebrate the return of some of the world’s biggest stars to the region.

And the double European indoor champion is confident the event will help inspire young members of the crowd to get involved in the sport, following in his footsteps and helping continue the area's proud history of producing athletics greats.

He said: “Gateshead is an iconic place for athletics and it’s massively important to the area. When I first started I had a long list of people I looked up to and I think it’s important to keep that going.

“Whatever sport you watch, the fans in the North-East are amazing and when I’m competing all around the world everybody knows Gateshead because of its history, and because of the fans.

“The reception is going to be electric and I can’t wait to see some of the world’s biggest stars make it an iconic competition, bringing athletics back to where it belongs in the North-East.”

Tickets are still available for the IAAF Diamond League meet HERE