South Leeds Sports Centre campaigers hold April Fools Day Olympic Torch run – UPDATED

south leeds sports centre protesters
Protesters ready for 'Olympic Torch' run in Holbeck

A group of campaigners fighting to reopen South Leeds Sports Centre in Beeston have today held a mock Olympic torch run – and they claim a lack of sports facilities in the area will prevent local youngsters becoming Olympians of the future.

south leeds sports centre olympic torch
Two 'Olympic Torch' carriers prepare for the off

The protest group, made up mainly of parents and children, started their Olympic torch run and walk around the area on Domestic Street, Holbeck, at noon before going up past the Moor, past the sports centre – which closed in November 2010 – and around parts of Holbeck and Beeston Hill.

The group says the centre should be reopened to give local youngsters the better opportunities to take part in sport. Read more about the Splashback group’s reasons for holding today’s event here.

The group, made up of people of many different ages and backgrounds, gathered today in beautiful sunshine to demonstrate their support for the centre reopening.

The real Olympic torch is due to be carried through Beeston and Hunslet in June ahead of the London 2012 Olympics this summer.

The campaigners were provided with free tee-shirts and took it in turn to run a short section of the route carrying the mock Olympic torch with Vangelis’ music – ‘Chariots of Fire’ – blasting out from the accompanying car. At each stage the torch holders were interviewed about their reasons for joining the protest. Along the route, bystanders offered encouragement and support to the campaign. Unfortunately, none of our local councillors came along to support the event.

At the sports centre itself two Gaelic football teams were waiting on the roadside to start a game of football on the pitches at the rear of the building. They had played there for several years and used to get changed in the centre; since its closure they now have to get changed on the roadside due to a lack of changing facilities!

The run (and walk, and car ride) ended back at the sports centre a little behind schedule. The event was considered a success and the participants had enjoyed their exercise in the glorious sunshine. One or two of them were a little tired after their exertions – perhaps out of condition due to a lack of sports facilities?

The campaigners vowed to continue their fight to reopen the centre. Future protests were planned along with the Leeds May Day Demo on 5 May in the Victoria Gardens and on 25 June when the real Olympic torch travels through Beeston and Holbeck.

Some more images from the run can be seen on the slideshow below.