Supporters' Blog

Steve Howell's first novel, 'Over The Line' is set in the lead up to the Rio Olympic Games. In this interview with BASC, Steve talks about his book, athletics and the doping issue...

What is 'Over The Line' about?

It’s the story of Megan, a 100m hurdler and Olympic poster girl, who comes under suspicion because her troubled friend Matt died after abusing steroids. The police think she's hiding something and reopen the case just weeks before Rio. Megan panics and goes into hiding - only to resurface in her home town of Newport arm-in-arm with Will, a rugby-playing ex-boyfriend who's failed a drugs test.

Megan's coach, Liam, who narrates the story, doesn't know what to think. He wants to believe in her, but she doesn't make it easy for him as he tries to get to the truth.

Why did you decide to write it?

The Olympic athletics schedule gets under way on Friday and there’s plenty of action on offer for British fans over the next ten days. From Laura Muir to Greg Rutherford, the athletes are poised and ready to go, but the question is are you?

Here’s my events and athletes to watch over the coming days;

Friday (12th)

The action starts around 1.30pm when Jessica Ennis-Hill begins the defence of her heptathlon title in the 100m hurdles. It’s been an unusual outdoor season for Ennis-Hill, who has again been outshone by the performances of her team-mate Katarina Johnson-Thompson. But the expectations are firmly with KJT going into the Olympics, which hasn’t always brought the best out of her in the past. Jess always finds that little bit extra at major champs, but can she deliver again? The heptathlon concludes at 2.53am Sunday (our time).

Saturday (13th)

One of our members interviews Svein Arne Hansen, President of European Athletics, covering a range of topics from European Champtionships in the UK, field events in the Diamond League, engaging with young people, and what improvements he would like to see in the sport. The full interview will appear in the next edition of Backtrack.

Which of the current crop of British athletes excite you?

British athletes have always excited me with their honesty and the fact that they bring such passionate and knowledgeable fans and media with them.

Of the current crop of course Jessica Ennis-Hill and the pretender to her crown Katarina Johnson-Thompson are very exciting to watch.

Mo Farah always brings a buzz when he runs. Martyn Rooney excites me over 400m. The sprint hurdlers Lawrence Clarke and Andrew Pozzi have potential to tackle the Americans. Greg Rutherford in the long jump, Dina Asher-Smith has unlimited potential in the sprints and Lynsey Sharp shows great grit and determination over 800m.

And who couldn’t love the drama which always follows your relay teams?!

I vividly remember watching the infamous clash between Zola Budd and Mary Decker-Slaney at the 1984 Olympics, not least because I was fascinated by Budd running barefoot on the track. So I was intrigued when I discovered that Sky was showing a new documentary about the athletes and the race.

Back in 1984 as I was still in primary school the political aspect of the story bypassed me so all I really knew about was “the fall” as a result when this film was announced I was immediately interested to know more.

I settled down to watch SKY Atlantic’s “The Fall” and found it to be one of the best sporting documentary films I’ve ever seen. The Fall isn’t simply about the 3000m final in Los Angeles, it tells the story of how both protagonists grew up and their career journey to LA 1984.

Rembrandt's 'The Night Watchman' is perhaps the best known painting in the refurbished (cost €135m) Rijksmuseum here in Amsterdam; frankly I was unimpressed and preferred the Vermeer's and some of the modern art.  Along with other BASC members we have done our share of museum bashing, walking the streets and canal trips. 

On Tuesday evening there was the opening ceremony in the grassy square by the main museums.  A glitzy event of little relevance to athletics except that compressing the European Championships into 9 sessions across 5 days means no room for the javelin and discus qualifiers in the Stadium so they take place in the same square over the first 2 days.

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