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Posts Tagged ‘2012 olympics’

This post is slightly delayed, since I was out of the house when the Aviva Indoor Athletics was on in Glasgow on Saturday.

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It was the final hurrah for Glasgow’s Kelvin Hall, which would be making way for the new stadium being built for the Commonwealth Games. It was also one of the first athletics meetings of the season, with Great Britain taking on Russia, Germany, the USA and a Commonwealth elect  to win the indoor trophy.

Andy Turner’s hurdles did not get the GB team off with the start they would have hoped for, and he is suffering with an Achilles injury. He hit a number of the hurdles, and limped off the track at the end of the race after finishing last.

Fortunately, that moment was one of very few low points for British team, who secured the overall team award, as well as coming away with a huge number of wins.

Jeannette Kwakye ran an incredible 60m, beating the rest of the field by two fractions of a second, and Mark Lewis-Francis edged out the ever popular Kim Collins to win his own 60m race.

There were some surprises on the day too.

Danny Talbot also left Kim Collins tailing in second to win the 200m and Margaret Adeoye set a personal best to win her own 200m race. Joe Thomas won the 800m, and it is hoped that he can now turn his successful indoor form to better times outside.

Hannah England and Helen Clitheroe finished second in the 1,500m and 3,000m respectively.

The highlight of the meet was Mo Farah’s 1,500m. He fought a close battle with Kenya’s Agustine Choge, overtaking him on the last lap to secure a personal best and stadium record.

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Overall, the British team showed a lot of promise. The surprise victories from some of Britain’s lesser-known athletes proved that the talent in the British team runs deep.

It also appears that the training in Kenya is proving incredibly useful for Farah, England and Clitheroe, all of whom are benefiting from running at high altitude. It is hoped that Paula Radcliffe, who is also training at the ‘Home of Champions’, will be fighting fit ready for London.

It is early days, but success in January gives the athletes a great push going forward into the rest of the season. A number of them will be competing for the Indoor World Championships at Istanbul on the 12-14th March, and will be hoping to turn their success in Glasgow to world success.

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London is already hosting the Olympics in 2012, and so for some, the bidding for the Athletics World Championships in 2017 is unnecessary. After all, one of the biggest events in world sport is already coming to the UK.

The key word is ‘legacy’. It has been branded about ever since it was revealed London would bid for the 2012 Olympic Games, and the World Championships is a way of ensuring that legacy. If nothing else, it will mean the track will be maintained for at least the next six years. Maintaining the track is incredibly important. Next year, the Olympics 2012 will become part of Great Britain’s history. Keeping that track is an important reminder of the (hopefully) spectacular tournament London will host next year.

Having already watched the Football World Cup disappear off to Qatar, it is difficult to watch London battling them  to host another important tournament. Losing out to Russia was hard enough. Indeed, today, I told someone that the winner of the bid was going to be revealed today. They couldn’t care less. Then I told them Britain was going against Qatar. Then he cared.

For the IAAF, it has appeared as though they have been desperate to take athletics to as many parts of the globe as possible. The last tournament was in Daegu in South Korea and the next two will be Moscow and Bejing. The chairman of UK athletics, Ed Warner says, ““If this does not go to London, a number of other cities in western Europe that might have contemplated bidding for the championships will look at it and say ’What do I have to do to win? Is it impossible?’”

It is, of course, important that sport does go to different parts of the world, but it is also important that it goes to places where sport is already well-supported, and where crowds are guaranteed. The UK has a magnificent history of hosting world sporting events, and should not be prevented from hosting an event because it won’t be somewhere new.

Qatar have already put their money where their mouth is, and have offered to pay the IAAF £5 million to spend as they see fit. For Qatar, financial incentives are clearly their way of winning the tournaments they desire. In this respect, they are able to punch well above their weight. For many, the disappointing Football World Cup decision was indicative of Qatar’s desire to pay whatever it takes.

London, though, has a few important things in its favour.

Firstly, its temperatures aren’t 40 degrees, and conditions are very favourable for marathon runners and other athletes.

Secondly, it will attract the crowds. Qatar has a population of only 1.7 million people, compared to the UK’s 62.2 million. In theory, those that missed out on athletics tickets for the Olympics will be inspired to buy tickets for the World Championships instead. London also has a huge tourist-appeal.

Thirdly, the infrastructure is already in place. While Doha discusses where they will be building, the London bid can show what is already in place – a spectacular stadium which will already have a great history of its own by the time 2017 comes around.

London winning the 2017 games is vitally important if the Olympic committee wish to seal their legacy ideal.

A win also has repercussions for future tournaments, and indeed, other sports such as football. If sporting bodies such as the IAAF decide that sending tournaments to new parts of the world is the ideal, then they are going to begin to lose key support in Europe, North America and Australasia. By looking to attract new supporters for their events, they may actually ostracise the countries that can always guarantee their finances, magnificent stadiums, good human rights records and sold-out venues.

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I feel so sorry for Sebastian Coe.

On 6th July 2005, I remember going to school with a portable radio so I could listen to the International Olympic Committee’s announcement on who would host the 2012 Olympics. In the cafeteria, the school had filled the room with British flags and put the TV on so the students could watch the announcement. It took a long time for the envelope to be opened, but when it finally was, we all celebrated. Winning the Olympics was a really, really big deal and excitement gripped the country (at least for 24 hours, because the London bombings brought everyone back down to earth the following day).

Since that announcement, the Games have received nothing but negativity. Led, it seems, by journalists who only want to present everything in a bad light, people have found themselves with many reasons to complain.

Too expensive, too much traffic, disruptive, pointless, mayhem on public transport, poor ticketing system, the Stadium will be a white elephant… The complaints are seemingly endless.

Supporting the Olympics in Trafalgar Square

Seb Coe and Boris Johnson are doing their best to deflect the complaints, and have been getting visibly annoyed with the persistent criticism.

In truth, since that day in 2005, I have been nothing but an Olympic supporter. As Boris likes to say, it is on budget, it is on time and it is going to show the best of British.

The fact is that the Olympics are going to cause disruption for a very short period of time. It will be annoying for commuters, and yes, if you’re not a sport fan, the BBC is going to drive you insane for a few weeks. But people need to stop complaining and start looking at what an amazing spectacle is going to be taking place in their country in under a year’s time. After all, it will probably never happen again in our lifetime.

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With tomorrow’s athletics merely the walking races, I thought this would be a great opportunity to discuss some of the most pivotal moments in the last few days of the Athletics World Championships in Daegu.

As a fan of all British athletes, I was slightly disappointed to see Jessica Ennis win the Silver medal, and not retain her title from Berlin two years ago. Nevertheless, Tatyana Chernova put in an incredible effort, and definitely deserved the gold medal.

I think, though, the most shocking moment of these championships (so far) was definitely Usain Bolt’s disqualification from the 100m final. I have already written at length about what changes I believe the IAAF may need to implement before the Olympics next year to avoid such an event occurring a second time. It is a shame though, that the IAAF may only reconsider its decision on false starts (currently one strike and you’re out) as a result of a world record holder being disqualified. Fans have to wonder if it had been Tyson Gay or Asafa Powell who false started whether the IAAF would still be considering another look at the rules.

Another shocking moment which I mentioned briefly in this blog yesterday was the disqualifaction of Dayron Robles after he interfered in Liu Xiang’s lane during the 110m hurdles. There have been mixed views on whether stripping him of his gold medal was the right decision, but he clearly made contact with Xiang twice towards the end of the race, at a moment where it appeared Xiang was on course for the gold medal. The fair and correct decision appears to have been made by the IAAF in this case.

The biggest cheers around the stadium have emerged every time Oscar Pistorius has taken to the track. A Paralympic athlete who runs on blades, Pistorius was granted permission to run in these World Championships, to mixed feelings. To some, he is an inspiration, running times unthinkable to even some able-bodied athletes. To others, such as Tanni Grey-Thompson, a legend in Paralympic sport, he is relegating the Paralympics as a ‘B’ sport. And others feel that his blades give him an unfair advantage over other athletes. Pistorius crashed out in the semi-final, but put in some amazing performances to make it that far. I am still struggling to make my own opinion about his inclusion, but this is a fantastic article from the Telegraph which may help you make up your own minds.

Also, in the men’s 400m, there is another man to look out for: Kirani James of the island of Grenada claimed the gold medal after a surprising victory over favourite LaShawn Merritt. Aged only 18 (19 in two days), he ran a superb race and may be on course to one day beat Michael Johnson’s world record.

In the next few days, I am most looking forward to the relays. They are so often full with drama, but also feature some of the best sprinters in the world. As a fan of Great Britain, I also can’t wait to watch Dai Green’s 400m hurdles, as well as triple jumper Phillips Idowu. Be sure to keep a close eye on the next few days of events at Daegu – I am sure they will be thrilling.

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Before I begin, let me just say I am very grateful to Channel 4 for bringing the World Athletic Championships to terrestrial TV. I do not have Eurosport and am therefore very glad that was able to watch Mo Farah’s fantastic silver medal live, as well as every one of Jessica Ennis’ heats.

Channel 4’s coverage has receieved a lot of complaints, ranging from poor presenting and the number of adverts. It has, however, saved itself with the number of experts it has on board, including Michael Johnson, usually found on the BBC’s coverage, Dean Macey and Iwan Thomas. Despite its faults, it does bring some excellent views from some excellent pundits.

But today, its coverage reached a new low.

Channel 4, decided, that they would be best suited to show Three In A Bed (a Come Dine With Me style show based around B&B owners) over the end of what was becoming a thrilling men’s pole vault final. The final finished around 15 minutes after the scheduled finish time for the athletics. Is Channel 4 really so inflexible with its schedule that it could not run on for an extra 15 minutes?

Channel 4’s coverage has been of a lesser standard than we usually expect from the BBC, but ending the programme early was a big mistake that the BBC would never have made. Did they honestly believe that people would be incensed if they were not able to watch Three In A Bed or Countdown on time?

A big story of the day was also building after the 100m Hurdles Final, where the winner, Dayron Robles was shown to have hit the Chinese athlete twice, and was subsequently disqualified. Channel 4 had also promised a recap of the day’s events.

The hurdles final, including the event between Robles and Xiang

Channel 4, though, decided that its own programmes were more important than a live sporting event.

What if the pole vault final had involved British athletes? Would we have been prevented from watching a British athlete win a medal? Indeed, the Robles story had the potential for a British Bronze medal if Robles was indeed disqualified, as Britain’s Andy Turner finished in 4th.

Next year, and this is a fact that Channel 4 has been promoting avidly, it is the broadcaster for the 2012 Paralympic Games in London. Are they going to continually stick to their seemingly rigid schedule if the athletics, god forbid, looks as though it could run over for a few minutes?

Channel 4 needs to find some flexibility – and fast – before it finds itself inundated with messages from angry athletic fans such as myself.

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