Blog

 RSS Feed

  1. The Anniversary Games - one year on from London 2012The huge amount spent on bringing the 2012 Olympics to London (£9 billion, no less) as least seemed justified in terms of the atmosphere and feel-good factor evident at the Anniversary Games this weekend. A lasting legacy was the ultimate aim and a capacity crowd was certainly keeping the Olympic flame alive as the world's best athletes converged on the English capital for this extra-special event.

    British superstars such as Mo Farah and Jessica Ennis-Hill have already played an enormous part in getting youngsters involved in the wonderful sport of athletics through their gold medal-winning exploits at London 2012. Their appearances within the Olympic Stadium were greeted with tumultuous roars and frantic waving of union jack flags - Britain has a rejuvenated passion for athletics that created an unforgettable couple of days for all those lucky enough to witness the drama unfolding before them.

    Many people will argue that these vast sums of money could have been better spent elsewhere however there is no price on a nation being uplifted and being given a sense of pride like this... it was electric. So long as schools, community groups, clubs and organisations continue to work tirelessly to engage with the stars of tomorrow through sport, the future looks incredibly bright - especially for British athletics.

    The past 12 months have flown by. Memories of the London Olympics are so fresh and vivid one year on, and we must not forget what a superb success the Games were in every respect. The World Athletics Championships in London will take place four years from now and it's essential to maintain this wave of positivity and passion as we head towards this next global event. With a wealth of young talent starting to break through at European and World level, Britain has a massive amount to enjoy at present. The Olympics legacy has just begun and long may it continue...

  2. The Bislett Games are a very special occasionThis was one Diamond League event that I had been looking forward to for ages - it definitely didn't disappoint.

    From the moment we arrived in Oslo to the time we boarded our plane home, the experience was completely magical. There are a number of things you notice when staying in Oslo for the first time: the hospitality and service you receive is fantastic and we were always given a friendly smile with plenty of great advice on what to do and where to go. It could not have been better and everyone seemed so high on life - must be something in the Scandinavian air that gives the locals a great deal of positivity and enthusiasm!

    Next it's the landscape and scenery around Norway's capital; it's truly breathtaking and there is so much to explore and investigate - from our boat trip into the fjords to the picturesque train journey up to Holmenkollen to visit the iconic ski jump tower, it's a feast for the senses. Lastly you can't fail to notice how clean and tidy everything is - when combined with a flair for contemporary design, it produces an array of awe-inspiring attractions and creations such as the Opera House on the waterfront, which has been designed to resemble an enormous glacier. You can stand on the 'roof' and marvel at the views in all directions.

    Then there's the Bislett Games... and what a treat is was. You can't put your finger on what makes it so atmospheric but there's something extra-special about this old stadium that just makes the occasion even more memorable. Maybe it's the extremely close proximity of the track to the spectators, the quirky nature of its surroundings (a multitude of flats 'peer' into the stadium on all sides) or simply its illustrious history that includes over 20 world records.

    Usain Bolt was the main attraction at this year's event and he delivered a stunning 200m run to delight all of the 15,000 crowd who had braved cold, but dry, conditions to catch a glimpse of the sprint phenomenon. Entering the stadium in a Formula 1-style car and belting around the track on his own before the action got underway was a spectacle few were expecting... Meseret Defar was hugely impressive in her world-leading 5000m effort and there were a number of decent performances elsewhere but for the full-on Diamond League deal you have to add Mr Bolt to proceedings. His pulling power is quite incredible and the man is quite simply an athletics deity at present. Rumour has it that he hired out an entire floor of the Thon Hotel Opera to entertain guests and, having seen him return to the hotel in person (with a group of friends) shortly after midnight, I would not be surprised if this was true! Meeting Seb Coe and Ivet Lalova made the trip for me (for totally different reasons of course) and it rounded off a superb night of athletics. 

    Will I return to Oslo next summer? Maybe. Despite the ludicrous prices (a small beer cost anything up to £10) it was such an excellent trip that it would be so hard to resist...!

  3. Darya Klishina cleared the 7m barrier in GothenburgThe indoor season can often be so much of an anti-climax with many of the top stars choosing to wait until May to get their campaign started. Even when the best do compete indoors, there can sometimes be a generally weaker set of results as athletes are yet to peak and get to the height of their abilities. Thankfully neither scenario was played out at Gothenburg at the start of March as the championships produced a number of stunning performances and world-leading marks to show the global athletics community that Europe boasts some of the finest track and field competitors on the planet.

    Renaud Lavillenie epitomised the spirit in the Swedish city as he cleared a stunning 6.01m then went on to only fail 6.07m after a freak incident saw the bar bounce up to another part of the apparatus and stay there - quite a bizarre way to end the competition but what an incredible series from the Olympic champion. Not one but two men went under 6.50 in the 60m to both set a world-leading mark of 6.48. Indeed young sprinters Jimmy Vicaut and James Dasaolu look set for a great rivalry as the season progresses and both should feature at the top of the European rankings for many years to come.

    Briton Perri Shakes-Drayton looked superb and very classy as she took two golds in the 400m and 4x400m - maybe she could achieve greater success over the 400m flat as the Hurdles looks extremely competitive at the moment... only time will tell. The two Russian Long Jumpers Aleksandr Menkov and Darya Klishina - both 22, could well dominate the event for the next decade and their respective world-leading marks of 8.31m and 7.01m only emphasise that they will be two of the star attractions at the Summer's forthcoming World Athletics Championships in Moscow, where they will benefit from the substantial home support. Sergey Shubenkov is another Russian who is rapidly improving and he could challenge the world's top hurdlers in 2013 after his 7.49 WL in the 60m Hurdles.

    It was so exciting to see Daniele Greco (24) bound out to a spectacular 17.70m in the Triple Jump to smash his PB and move up to =11th on the all-time indoor lists - two years after compatriot Fabrizio Donato jumped 17.73m in Paris, which was the furthest distance ever to come 2nd indoors.

    There's no doubt that the outdoor season will provide its fair share of thrills and spills but the European challenge - particularly from the Russians, could be extremely strong in Moscow during the Worlds in August. We'll see some dramatic action and maybe even a World Record to boot, although it's anyone's guess where it will come from....!

  4. Mo Farah was one of the stars of London 2012The BBC Sports Personality of the Year is always a keenly contested affair with the very best athletes from all sports represented at this prestigious annual awards ceremony. The 2012 shortlist of 12 contenders - largely aided by the London 2012 Olympics and Paralympics, was nothing short of phenomenal.

    To be honest, any one of those nominated would have been worthy winners but the nation (quite rightly) decided that cyclist Bradley Wiggins, who was the first Briton to win the gruelling Tour de France as well as scooping Olympic gold in the road race, should claim the overall top prize. Behind him it was widely predicted that either Mo Farah or Jessica Ennis (or indeed both) would be voted in the remaining top three positions. In the end, Jess duly took second place and tennis player Andy Murray went away with third.

    With stunning runs to win both the Olympic 5000m and 10,000m crowns to complete a memorable double, Mo enjoyed a sensational year and arguably achieved more than Heptathlon champ Jess, however the British public clearly disagreed. Yes, Andy Murray was Britain's first male Grand Slam winner for 76 years and also took gold at the Olympics so he was well and truly justified within the top three but if one athlete was going to appear then surely it had to be Mo. You could argue that there was more pressure on Jess to deliver as the poster girl and pin-up athlete of the host nation but Mo's achievements must be considered superior.

    Up against the best that east Africa's Kenyans and Ethiopians could throw at him, Mo became the first Briton to win either the 5000m or 10,000m at a global championships. To succeed in both at the Olympics makes his accomplishment even more formidable. Maybe the British male population was swayed by Jess's striking looks and some would have taken into account that the Heptathlon is a hugely demanding two-day event... whatever the reasons, it's a real shame that Mo missed out on a 'podium' finish at the Sports Personality awards after creating his own two special pieces of history within the space of one magical week.

    At least we can all agree that both Jess and Mo delivered when it really mattered on the world stage and their performances will always be remembered.

  5. Memorabilia galoreHaving heard over the summer about the IAAF Centenary Historic Exhibition at Barcelona, which would celebrate '100 Years of Athletics Excellence' over a 6-week period in October/November courtesy of the largest collection of athletics memorabilia ever assembled, a trip to the beautiful Spanish city was hastily organised.

    The exhibition was put together in a section of the Olympic & Sports Museum and certainly didn't disappoint. In addition to what seemed like just about every athletics statistic and record on the planet, there was a large amount of memorabilia from legends of the sport including the likes of Haile Gebrselassie, Usain Bolt, Jan Zelezny and Sebastian Coe.

    When viewing the wide range of major medals on show, it became increasingly evident that there have been seem absolutely hideous designs over the years and also a fair share of simply stunning gongs. The Sydney medals from their 2000 Olympic Games are a (literally) shining example of how to get it right with a classic theme throughout and an overall feel of real quality.

    The exhibition was cleverly conceived to flow around an eight-land section of track that took you through different eras in the history of athletics. Considering the relatively small size of the room used, the sheer volume of articles and information crammed in was nothing short of remarkable. The two and a half hours we spent there was not nearly enough to take in the finer detail of all the exhibits but the museum thought it would be sensible to close at 2.30pm on a Sunday, hence our enforced departure - maybe longer opening hours might have been advisable.

    All in all, however, it was an extremely fitting tribute to the achievements of athletics across the world over the past 100 years. Many congratulations to all of those that made it possible.

  6. The magnificent London Olympic StadiumAnd so the Olympics have come and gone like a whirlwind, bringing joy and happiness to the world and 'inspiring a generation'.

    From start to finish, it was one incredible spectacle that captivated everyone who witnessed the drama and theatre that was played out in front of packed crowds at every venue across London. When the time came for the athletics programme to begin, expectation reached fever pitch as the planet's finest athletes came together to perform against the magnificent backdrop of the 80,000-capacity Olympic Stadium.

    There was so much to enjoy - not least the incredible evening on Saturday 4 August when Team GB secured three precious golds in the space of an hour to top the athletics medal table for several days to come. Usain Bolt duly became the star of the Games, as he proved once again that he's the undisputed king of speed after victories in the 100m and 200m, coupled with a sensational final leg that helped to give Jamaica a new 4x100m World Record mark.

    From a British perspective, Mo Farah has elevated himself to the all-time greats with his long distance double. Having been lucky enough to be in the stadium when he lined up against his 5000m rivals, I honestly thought he would struggle to repeat his 10,000m success from the previous Saturday. How wrong I could be. Urged on by the unrelenting, vociferous crowd, Mo was roared on to a famous and unforgettable victory that sent a chill down the spine as he surged across the line to write his name into Olympic history. There were cries of 'We want Mo' ringing around the stadium as his ceremony was placed last to guarantee a true hero's reception as he collected his second gold of a fantastic Games for the 29-year-old. The atmosphere was like nothing I have ever experienced - it was simply electric.

    I can also say that I was a little hasty in my dislike of the Team GB kit... I have to admit that I've warmed to it and would even go as far to say that it was one of the most distinctive and attractive kits at the Games. Great job designers after all!

    In terms of personal highlights, Seeing Felix Sanchex return to glory after many years in the athletics wilderness was a truly great sight that ensured he will be remembered as a legend in the 400m Hurdles after winning gold eight years after his first triumph in the event. Other favourite moments included Robert Harting getting the better of his Discus rivals then embarking on a 100m Hurdles dash to celebrate (fortunately all mascots were safe this time, unlike in Berlin at the Worlds in 2009...!), Aries Merritt continuing his exceptional season with yet another sub-13 clocking in the 110m Hurdles, Allyson Felix winning her first individual Olympic gold and Greg Rutherford finally fulfilling his potential on the world stage in the Long Jump.

    Without doubt, London put on a wonderful show and the athletics shone brightly with a total of four World Records (including the 20k Walk) and a glut of World-leading performances to boot. Rio now has a lot to live up to as the benchmark has been raised further but I'm sure Brazil will deliver a fabulous Games that boasts loads of energy, excitement and charisma.

    The Olympics may be gone but there is still the Paralympics to look forward to, which will provide plenty more inspirational moments that will be savoured by hundreds of millions across almost every nation in the world. Bring it on - you can be certain that London will deliver for one final time...