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  1. Perri Shakes-Drayton will be especially pleased Yes - as a Brit, it hardly comes as any surprise that I'm delighted the 2017 World Athletics Championships will be coming to London but there really were so many positives concerning the bid that arguably the most suitable city was chosen.

    Nobody wants to compete in stifling, oppressive heat and if it means shifting the event back to mid-September when it's slightly 'cooler' then that is far from ideal given the norm of holding major championships in July or August. The legacy after London 2012 can now live on until the 2017 World Champs and far beyond - it gives the city an enormous amount to look forward to; the next few years will be as good as it gets if you are a GB internatonal.

    I have no doubts whatsoever that Qatar could have put on a wonderful event as they did - albeit on a much smaller scale - for the 2010 World Indoor Championships, however there were potential worries that the stadium would not be full for each session whereas that issue should not be a problem in London.

    The London bid team have done a fantastic job (again) to bring such a prestigious event (the world's third largest) to the city and their hard work has finally been rewarded with this ultimate 'prize'. Congratulations to everyone involved - the countdown to 2017 begins now... just over 2,000 days to go!

    Let's just hope the Olympics ticketing fiasco experienced by many people will not be repeated for this major event and there is some system introduced that gives preferential treatment to those people actively involved in the sport, including coaches, officials and club staff who give up their free time voluntarily to assist local athletes - now that really would be something worth introducing.

  2. Preview of

    Kirani James enjoyed a wonderful 2011 seasonAny Olympic year is special but 2012 will be the first year we see the European Championships being held in addition to the Games themselves as they adopt a two-year cycle from now on. It is worth noting there will be no Race Walks or Marathons at the European Champs when they fall in the same year as the Olympics.

    As well as the London 2012 Olympics and European Champs in Helskinki, there are two global events that will attract significant interest - the World Indoor Championships in Istanbul (9 - 11 March) and the World Junior Championships in Barcelona (10 - 15 July). The IAAF Samsung Diamond League will enter its third season and it has so far proved a superb initiative, taking over from the IAAF Golden League in 2010 and offering athletics fan worldwide the chance to see top international athletics at its very best.

    We have enjoyed a hugely successful 2011 with a number of world-class juniors starting to shine at senior level - many of these young athletics stars are likely to provide some of the many potential highlights next year.

    Names to Watch

    Kirani James
    (Grenada) stormed to 400m gold at the World Championships at the age of just 18 then lowered his PB to 44.36 in Zurich to end the season just 0.01sec behind world leader LaShawn Merritt and comfortably ahead of the next fastest time - 44.65. Should be close to breaking 44 seconds in 2012.

    Young German Shot Put sensation David Storl also won World gold in Daegu (21.78m PB) despite fierce competition and the 21 year-old looks set to improve further in 2012. Expect him to go well beyond 22m and be one of the favourites for gold in London.

    Jack Green has a bright future in the 400m HurdlesSprint hurdler Sally Pearson from Australia came so close to a World Record when winning the World Champs with her 12.28 clocking and she enjoyed a phenomenal season with great consistency in her performances. Now aged 25, Pearson still has a few seasons to improve on Donkova's magical 12.21 mark from 1988.

    Christian Taylor was a name many people had not heard until 2011, when he catapulted himself to fifth on the all-time Triple Jump lists with a huge 17.96m effort when taking the World title in Daegu. Had the wind been more favourable than 0.1m/s, he could have approached Jonathan Edwards' WR mark of 18.29m. Taylor is only 21 and can only improve providing he stays injury-free. He should become the third man to clear 18m when he competes next year.

    Nobody felt that Usain Bolt's 200m World Record of 19.19 would be broken by anyone other than the man himself and Yohan Blake nearly proved us all wrong when he ran 19.26 in Brussels. Another 21 year-old with a massive amount of talent, Blake's rivalry with Bolt in 2012 could see this mark lowered.

    Obviously the British athletes will be expected to achieve a great deal at their 'home' Olympics and the likes of Dai Greene, Mo Farah, Phillips Idowu and Jessica Ennis are all genuine gold medal contenders. A number of younger athletes will have the chance to enhance their reputations such as Holly Bleasdale (Pole Vault), Jodie Williams (100m / 200m), Jack Green (400m Hurdles) and Lawrence Okoye (Discus).

    One thing is certain - for all British athletics fans, 2012 will live long in the memory and be unlike any other athletics season experienced before. Not since 1948 has the Olympics come to the UK and it will be an incredible year that promises so much.

  3. Collins and Maggi shine in MexicoIt is always great to see some of the more 'mature' athletes achieve success in major championships and the 2011 Pan American Games in Mexico has provided some exceptional performances from athletes in the twilight of their careers.

    I've been a big fan of former World Champion Kim Collins for many years and love his easy-going, yet determined, personality - he has won many admirers across the world for his superb attitude and commitment to the sport. I was overjoyed to hear that the 35 year-old had broken the Pan American Games 100m record with a 10.00 clocking (0.4m/s) in his semi-final, which also represented a season's best. He then went on to take silver in the final with a solid 10.04 behind Lerone Clarke's 10.01 (0.2m/s).

    Another experienced athlete to have won a global title (2008 Olympics) and still producing the goods at 35 years of age is Brazilian Maurren Maggi. Following a disappointing performance in Daegu where she came 11th, Maggi took the Long Jump title in Mexico with her best jump since winning in Beijing 3 years ago - 6.94m. It is her third gold at the Pan American Games.

    It just proves that, even in two competitive events demanding supreme power and explosive speed, it is still possible for athletes officially classed as 'Veterans' or 'Masters' to be among the world's very best. We salute you both Kim and Maurren!

  4. Diamond League

    Magnificent MonacoWell, I couldn't wait any longer and decided to sort out my first two Diamond League trips for 2012.

    was always going to be a given having been every year since 2004. Hotel and tickets duly booked (I went for my usual seats on the back straight by the Long/Triple Jump runway in Block D), the only aspect left to arrange is the Eurostar over from St Pancras International, which I'll get when tickets go on sale 120 days before the event (must make diary note for May 8th...).

    I must add that it's excellent how the Brussels 'Memorial van Damme' meeting gets organised so quickly and efficiently straight after the previous event. Tickets are now on sale already for the 7th September meeting. The Belgian Beer Weekend, which is held annually in Brussels and always well worth visiting, is sadly scheduled for the weekend before on this occasion but the athletics is more than worth the trip.

    Not generally one for sitting on my laurels, I took the plunge and booked Monaco shortly afterwards. I visited the area many years ago on a family holiday and promised myself I would return for a major athletics meeting - it doesn't get any better than a Diamond League event in the iconic Stade Louis II stadium.

    With its modest capacity (compared to the likes of the Stadio Olimpico in Rome or Paris' Stade de France) of 18,500, which is sure to be packed once again to provide an intimate, buzzing atmosphere, and an unrivalled location in the centre of one of Europe's most famous resorts, this is one meeting I can't wait for. (I wonder if there'll be another scuffle at the end of the 3000m Steeplechase next year involving a certain pair of French athletes...?)

    Another highlight will definitely be travelling from nearby Nice (where our hotel is situated) along the coastline by train to Monaco. This 25-minute trip provides stunning scenery and landscapes that will be a real feast for the senses. Two nights in Nice will give the chance to fully explore this cosmopolitan French city and all its charms.

    Will be looking at Rome over next week or so and might add this to the Diamond League 'tick list'. That's the beauty of the Diamond League - world-class athletics in some of Europe's most beautiful cities is certainly a winning combination!

  5. I feel like a kid in a sweet shop but tough choices need to be made!Wonderful Brussels

    Now that the 2012 Diamond League fixtures and dates have been confirmed, I have the extremely tough (yet enjoyable!) task of deciding which meetings to attend. If money and time were no object then clearly it would be a no-brainer and I would simply book up to each and every one, however as my numbers have not yet come up on the Lottery I must keep things in perspective and not go overboard...

    As it's an Olympic year, the calendar essentially has one month 'missing' to take into account London 2012 therefore Monaco is the final warm-up meeting (Fri 20 July) and Stockholm will be the first chance for Olympic champions and medallists to compete on Fri 17 August.

    Brussels has become my favourite of the Diamond League events, having attending in 2004 for the first time and been every year since... I have even started recognising the regulars who (like myself) choose the same seats for each meeting.  There is an incredible atmosphere and the stadium is always full to its 50,122 capacity.  With the Eurostar making the trip so easy and pleasurable, Brussels will definitely be number one choice for 2012.

    Paris is another Diamond League meeting reached by the Eurostar so keeps costs down as well as offering less hassle.  Four trips to this meeting since 2004 have all been enjoyable but the event has lost some of its old magic.  Sadly there is no longer a firework display, the stadium doesn't sell out and there isn't even an official programme produced these days.  Will decide later.

    The four outside Europe (Doha, Shanghai, Eugene and New York) will have to be missed mainly on the grounds of finances.  You can't really just hop on a flight, watch the athletics, stay a single night then come back so the costs start to spiral.  They are also scheduled very close to other European meetings.

    There are four European meetings still to experience: Lausanne, Oslo, Rome and Monaco (I have visited the latter two but not for atlhletics).  Monaco is an absolute must... stunning area and not too pricey if you stay in nearby Nice and get the coastal train.  Oslo, on the other hand is renowned for being one of Europe's most expensive cities however I promised myself I would attend in 2012.  I met an athletics fan from Italy at this year's Paris Diamond League event and it would be great to pop over to Rome and meet up so that looks a distinct possibility.  Lausanne... well, we'll see!

    Of the rest, Stockholm (2009) and Zurich (2010 & 2011) were both exceptional and two beautiful cities.  May give these a miss to concentrate on others above.  Then there's the two English meetings at Birmingham and London (Crystal Palace), which represent the easiest chance to see world-class international athletics.  They are a given.

    So there you go... I hope to attend a fair few of next year's showpiece Diamond League events but which ones? Would be very interested to hear other people's experiences - particularly of Lausanne, Rome, Oslo and Monaco.  Let the planning commence...!