West Ham United's move to the London 2012 Olympic Stadium will see the Club's new home undergo a multi-million pound transformation to turn it into a 54,000-capacity UEFA Category 4 venue.

However, while the Olympic Stadium will become one of world football's most iconic grounds, the innovative retractable seating that will be installed means it will retain use for athletics and a wide range of other sports.

Alongside the world-class events set to be held at the Olympic Stadium, local people of all ages will be able to run in the same arena as Mo Farah and Usain Bolt at community and school meets.


West Ham TV visited the famous Woodford Green with Essex Ladies Athletics Club, which has produced Olympic champion Sally Gunnell, Olympic hurdlers Tiffany Porter and Sarah Claxton and six-times British 100m champion Joice Maduaka. There, athletes of all ages spoke excitedly of the prospect of sharing a venue with the Hammers.

Among the club's members is West Ham's chaplain, Rev Alan Bolding, who is still sprinting at the age of 72.

"I do the 100m and 200m and last year, in my age-group, I was No3 in the UK but I get slower each year!" said Rev Bolding. "I started sprinting when I was 13 and stopped when I was 17, then took it up again when I was 62.

"About eight of our members officiated at the Olympic Stadium in the Olympics and Paralympics track and field events, which was good for the club.

"What a wonderful opportunity we've got for West Ham to go into that Stadium! My only dream is to run on that track in a proper event. I just pray that I'm around in 2016 when West Ham play their first match there. I'm so excited!"

One member to take part at London 2012 was team leader, coach and long distance runner Alistair Holford, who led a group of Woodford Green AC Games Makers who looked after the kit and other items discarded by athletes before their event.

"It was just a wonderful experience, both for me as a team leader but also for my team of kit carriers who loved it," Holford confirmed. "It is good news that there will be a permanent use for the stadium and other sports and events will be able to take place there.

"Particularly for athletics, it is really, really important and I think it would have been absolutely criminal if the stadium was knocked down to a 25,000 capacity, particularly with the World Athletics Championships coming up in four years time.

"My son Angus took part in the test event at the Olympic Stadium before London 2012, running the 10,000m, and just to have the opportunity to run on that track was great for him and for the youngsters here who potentially could run on that track."

Many of Holford's fellow athletes agree that the ability to use the stadium for both football and other sports will be central to its future success, while also giving them the opportunity to experience world-class facilities in a truly historic venue.

To find out what they got to say, watch our visit to Woodford Green with Essex Ladies Athletics Club now on West Ham TV.