Here’s wishing all our members, and all British athletes, coaches, officials, and volunteers a very happy and successful New Year! And it is Olympic Year. Are you excited? I am. Maybe not quite as much as in 2012 – you can’t beat a home Olympics – but it promises to be quite a year.
The Beijing World Championships promised much for British athletes, so I can’t wait for Rio. Will our gold medallists do the business again? Can Mo continue his superhuman efforts with an Olympic double-double and prove beyond all doubt that he is our greatest ever Olympic athlete? Will the competitor par excellence – Greg Rutherford – battle his way to retain his Olympic title? Can Jess Ennis-Hill sign off with Olympic Gold, or will KJT regain her nerve – particularly on the jumps run-up – to take her crown?
I’ve just got back from a great weekend at the European Cross Country where the Great Britain team put on an excellent display – a great opportunity to wave our Union Flags! . It was held this year down in the South of France – at Hyeres, just outside Toulon. It made for a very mild event, at 14 degrees celsius, whereas normally the European cross country event is associated with ice & snow! The event was held at the Hyeres Hippodrome - the local all-weather horse track - which even smelt a bit horsey in parts!
The event consisted of six races, male & female, Senior, Under 23 & Juniors, with full representation in each race from Great Britain and Northern Ireland. Each race started at the far side of the race track, and the athletes appeared to run as fast as they could along the race track cinders, to try and get the best position possible before the course narrowed. The spectators lined the track, cheering their athletes on, once they had gone by, the spectators then sprinted across the grass in the middle of the track to get to the viewing point on the other side. Once the athletes had gone by again – this was then repeated, for the number of laps for each event – we seemed to run nearly as far as the athletes!
Shelayna Oskan-Clarke was one of the first two athletes to receive the BASC Rising Star Award for her breakthrough performances at the 2015 World Championships in Beijing. Shelayna wrote this response for the next edition of Backtrack. Here is an excerpt…
“Competing in the Beijing World Championships was an unbelievable experience, just being an able to participate in such an exciting and intense environment was incredible and lining up on the track to challenge the best girls in the world and feeling like you belong. You could sense the feeling of this is it, this is the moment you have been working towards and you want to execute the race you have planned and be ready to react to any changes.
Record numbers for the BASC Annual Dinner Weekend were rewarded by a glittering array of athletes past, present and future in attendance. The overwhelming view from members is that these weekends just get better and better!
The highlight of the weekend was, as you would imagine, the Annual Dinner on the Saturday evening. Olympic medallist and club patron, Katharine Merry, oversaw proceedings which lived up to her promise of providing ‘a fun evening’. There was much laughter, but also great insights into the lives, achievements and hopes of some of the top British athletes.
Having been to London 2012 and Glasgow 2014, it was now time to try the IAAF world championships. This time round it was in Beijing. The bird’s nest stadium. For me, this is the home of athletics and where it all begun, having watched Usain Bolt back in 2008. It only felt right to hop on a 10 hour flight to see the spectacular unfold.
Staff at Track and Field Tours were lovely, making me feel very comfortable. They provided excursions and sightseeing trips in between the athletics events, giving people opportunity to see some of the world’s most famous sights. I couldn’t have asked for a better organiser of the trip. If you want all the hassle of planning a trip taken away from you, along with flexibility to be independent once there, I’d thoroughly recommend Track and Field Tours.