My previous experiences of indoor athletics have been weekend stays in Sheffield for the Indoor Championships but with London 2017 on the horizon and my budget focused on that I had to forego my usual short break in South Yorkshire to instead take in the Indoor Grand Prix in Birmingham - the climax of the IAAF’s World Indoor Tour.
After a train ride of around 90 minutes from Wigan, most of which consisted of my brother and I gassing about who we were looking to seeing compete, we arrived in Birmingham and promptly had important work to do… breakfast!!!
Once that was consumed it was a matter of trying to find our way to the Barclaycard Arena, after a short experience of Google Map trying to get us lost in Birmingham city centre we finally tracked our bus down and headed off to the arena.
I was looking forward to my weekend in Sheffield – who would win the trials and book their trips to Belgrade, Serbia, in three weeks time? We travelled up on the Friday night – so that I could take part in the Hillsborough parkrun on Saturday morning. It was very cold and wet – but at least the forecasted four inches of snow hadn’t materialised! I got round the three lap course in just over 27 minutes – a personal best – against the time I set last year!
Then it was time to head to the England Institute of Sport (EIS) arena, and I was lucky enough to be representing the BASC as a guest of UKA. It was a great afternoon of athletics – with Andrew Pozzi in the 60m hurdles being the highlight – equalling the world lead in the heats. The other highlight for me was being asked to present the medals to the men’s long jump winners. It was a great competition, with Dan Bramble (7.80) overtaking Ashley Bryant (7.71m) in the last round to snatch the gold medal, with Daniel Gardiner in third.
The other bit of excitement for the crowd was the sight of 46-year-old Anthony Whiteman beating the M45 World Record in the 800 meters.
2016 has been a year of stand out performances. Mo Farah in Birmingham, Laura Muir in London and Usain Bolt on the biggest stage of them all, Rio. But this year the performances of world class athletes have regularly been overshadowed by goings on behind the scenes. Drugs cover up, federal conspiracy, these headlines have understandably hogged the spotlight in 2016, while this year's Diamond League regulation changes have flown under the radar in comparison.
For fans of the sport these rule changes were perhaps as important to the integrity of athletics as keeping the sport clean and for this reason many of us took to our keyboards in the summer in protest. Twitter was ablaze with hashtags like #6jumpsplease, #6throwsplease and #3isnotenough. Encouraged by athletes like Lorraine Ugen, Greg Rutherford and Jazmin Sawyers who were also unhappy with the new format.
Thirteen BASC members took part in Saturdays Coventry parkrun – as part of the BASC Annual Dinner. This is now becoming an annual event itself – with 10 members also taking part last year – and thereby giving a chance to improve our efforts– and achieve a Personal Best (PB)!
This was the 343rd running of the Coventry parkrun itself – and there were 586 runners on a cold and crispy morning. Indeed parts of the course were quite frosty and slippery – and speaking to the runners after the two-lap event, many had run on the grass – rather than the tarmac – which seemed more secure. Even getting to the run was eventful – when the mini-bus had a puncture before it got to us – so we quickly ordered two taxis – and just about made it in time!
It wasn't so long ago that we were glued to our television sets, waiting up until the early hours of the morning to watch the Olympics, but as the winter sets in and our long distance stars trade the track for cross country, Sophie Flynn takes a look back at the British stars who shone in a summer of individual performances.
Laura Muir: I can't get enough of this girl, she is so exciting to watch. Over the summer she literally set the track alight at the London Anniversary games, eventually taking the 1500m Diamond Race title and made it to her very first Olympic final. She will of course be hoping to go one better this coming season. The London World Championships are just around the corner, but until then there will be hours of training, and the odd cross country, starting at the Great Edinburgh International in January.