Alan sets the gold standard for games

editorial image
Have your say

Ryedale will play a key role in the 2014 Commonwealth Games, thanks to a company which is supplying equipment to its athletes.

Equipment designed or distributed by Dr Alan Neuff, of Norton-based Neuff Athletic Equipment, has been used by track and field greats from the UK and other nations at the 2012 London Olympic and Paralympic Games, as well as numerous World and European championships.

And now Alan and his five-strong workforce will be watching with eager eyes as javelins, shot puts, discuses and hammers - hundreds of items in total - will be thrown by athletes in pursuit of a gold medal at the Glasgow games which start today.

“It is nice to see an athlete break a world record with something you have designed or supplied them,” said Alan, who lives in Rillington. “A lot of the international UK team, all the throwers, will in one way or another use our stuff, quite a lot of big names.”

Sally Mills, who works with Alan, added: “Half the time you are not looking at events, you are looking for our label!”

Neuff Athletic Equipment is being used as a supplier by the International Associations of Athletics Federations (IAAF) and games organisers who want athletes to only use officially approved equipment.

“For a meet that is done under IAAF rules, be it an English championships, Olympic Games or whatever, everyone must use something which has been certified by the IAAF,” said Alan. “The Commonwealth Games put out an agreed list two years ago. The reason for this is so an athlete can say, I need to train with that particular discus in preparation.”

For athletes competing in the javelin, there will be a choice of different javelins they can use - one that may offer the chance of reaching a greater distance but which is harder to control and vice versa.

Shot putters, meanwhile, can choose shots with different diameters - the simple reason being that “people have different size hands.”

He said: “People don’t realise how technical this game is. I wrote an article for UK Athletics and a lot of officials didn’t realise it either.”

Alan, a former teacher who has coached 15 of the UK’s top 100 all-time pole vaulters, started Neuff Athletic Equipment 20 years ago.

“The reason it all started is as a pole vault coach and way back in the 1960s, I wanted a fibreglass vaulting pole for youngsters I was teaching and I was told we couldn’t get them made in Britain,” he said. “It took me three years as I am a scientist by training but I did it.

“Once we got it up and running, every child in English championships was using our poles. When we left education in 1995, it was a question of what would we do next.

“When we started, it was not with the intention of starting a business, it was providing a service that was needed.”

Now all the hardware needed in athletics are supplied from his base in Norton - hurdles, javelins, poles, starting blocks, safety cages - heading to destinations as diverse as Canada, Brazil, Finland and Brunei.

Alan added: “We also do equipment especially for disabled athletes. For example, a cerebral palsy athlete couldn’t throw a javelin because they can’t grip it, so we make a special throwing club which is used in international competition. Disabled athletes can hold it and throw it as they like - overhead or underarm. It’s actually quite complex to make.”

Back to the top of the page