Today I attended the Vault Manchester event, second in the Vault Britain series. There’s nothing quite like getting back into an athletics arena after a few months out. The last live athletics event I saw was the Sainsburys School Games here in Manchester - a fantastic day which gave a real insight into the ones to watch for the next few years.
Vault Britain is a relatively new nationwide event, that takes its roots from regional vault competitions that clubbed together a few years ago to provide vaulters with a winter series in which to prepare themselves for the coming season. The organisers were full of enthusiasm for the event and the feeling was infectious. I chatted to a number of the athletes who were enjoying the atmosphere and level of the competition; the men’s elite event boasted the top four ranked athletes in the UK going head to head.
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.