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30ft bronze sculpture unveiled by Steve Cram

09 July 2002

A unique sculpture - depicting an athlete on a globe - has taken pride of place outside the new national headquarters of the English Institute of Sport at Sportcity.

Steve Cram and The Runner

Steve Cram is joined by local schoolchildren as the 30 foot high statue is unveiled

The Runner, created by sculptor Colin Spofforth, was commissioned to celebrate the Spirit of Friendship Festival - the most ambitious multi-cultural festival linked to a sporting event ever staged in the UK.

The sculpture is 30 feet high and weighs seven tonnes making it the largest bronze sculpture dedicated to sport in the UK. It was sculpted in a little over eight weeks and cast and finished in three months.

It was revealed in dramtic style with one thousand helium balloons being released into the skies above Sportcity.

Steve Cram MBE, one of the world’s most successful middle distance runners, was guest of honour at the unveiling. Cram, who will be a BBC athletics commentator at Games time, is chair of the English Institute of Sport, a nationwide network of world class training and support facilities for athletes.

Fourteen children from local schools in the East Manchester Education Action Zone also took part in the ceremony by starting the countdown to the unveiling. They were specially chosen to attend after winning a competition held among 720 children to design their own sculpture.

Sculptor Colin, based in Altrincham, Cheshire, said: “Everyone involved has done everything possible and more to make this sculpture happen in time for the Games - it’s fantastic to see it here in this amazing setting.“

“The inspiration for the work came from my study of the human form right through my career. The level of physical perfection achieved by athletes competing at this level is incredible.“

“If you look into the eyes of a one hundred-metre runner, you see an intense focus - I tried to portray this in the eyes of The Runner. He could be about to win or come last, the effort is all the same! The Runner is not modelled on any particular athlete but is quite simply a celebration of the human form at the peak of its being.”

Jo Hartley, National Festival director at Manchester 2002, said: “The Runner is a lasting legacy for the people of Manchester created by an extraordinarily talented artist.“

“This unique sculpture commemorates a remarkable year, with celebrations for Her Majesty The Queen’s Golden Jubilee and the Commonwealth Games where 72 nations will be competing.“

“Linking the two has been the Spirit of Friendship Festival which celebrates the many cultures and traditions of those Commonwealth nations.”

Trevor Brooking, chair of Sport England, of which the EIS is part, said: “This is a striking landmark celebrating not only the hosting of the Manchester 2002 Commonwealth Games but the future of the English Institute of Sport.”

Tom Russell, chief executive of New East Manchester Ltd, said: “The Runner is a permanent reminder to local people and visitors of this major international sporting event.”

“It has provided local young people with real inspiration and the opportunity to demonstrate their enthusiasm and creativity.”

Special guests at the ceremony also included Ron Hill, who won Gold in the marathon at the 1970 Commonwealth Games in Edinburgh.

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