Sunday, 5 August 2012

London 2012: Athletics is back

What an amazing night for British Athletics yesterday evening. Before the start of the Olympics nobody could have imagined we'd pick up 3 gold medals on the track in one evening.

BBC commentator, Brendan Foster called it the greatest night in UK athletics history. I think it beats anything from the so called 'golden era' of British athletics in the 1980s.

Firstly Jess Ennis claimed the Heptathlon Gold medal. I was in the Olympic stadium for yesterday's morning session and watched her in the Long Jump and Javelin.

Her personal best in her third and final throw, essentially guaranteed gold. When it came to the final event of the 800m, she just needed to get round to secure victory.

If the Gold medal by Ennis was the most craved and expected, then Greg Rutherford's victory in the Long Jump was totally left field - I really didn't see that coming.

A winning jump of 8.31 is decent. Earlier in the week the legend that is Carl Lewis said that Long jumping wasn't particularly strong at the moment, the coaching hadn't moved on in 20 years.




Greg Rutherford describes winning Olympic Gold.

Admittedly there's no stand out names in the event and few people seem to be jumping 8.50 plus on a regular basis, but lets not take anything away from Rutherford, an unexpected but brilliant gold medal.

And finally there was Mo Farah, the first Olympic victory by a British athlete ever in the 10,000m. I'm so please for him. For a long time he was a good athlete, but one that was never seriously going to challenge the dominance of the Ethiopians and Kenyans.

After a disappointing 2008 Olympics, he went away and found a new coach in Alberto Salazar, a triple winner of the New York Marathon. He trained with the Kenyans in Kenya, did more altitude training in the Pyrenees and moved his family to Oregon in the US to train with Salazar. All the sacrifices were worth it after last night's victory.

I'm so pleased for UK athletics. After football, athletics is my first and true love when it comes to sport. I want the sport to grow and succeed.

It's important as so many sports are competing for lottery funding which is partly based on success. We've seen British rowers and cyclists dominate in previous Olympics and this has overshadowed athletics and called into question the performance and future funding of the team.

Athletics will always be the premier event of the Olympics - I don't care how successful Team GB are in other sports. We have to have a strong athletics squad.


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