The Birmingham indoor meeting was a great event, the best I’ve seen there for several years. The obvious highlight was Mo Farah’s WR. It made one think what would happen in a race between Mo and the great Daniel Komen. The record books say that Komen would have won, but I wonder ….
Besides the WR finale there were lots of other great performances: Johnson-Thompson and Kim Collins (again) come to mind. But I was intrigued by Greg Rutherford after his event. He attracted a long queue of youngsters stretching down an aisle. This ended where Greg had sited himself below the stand. As each youngster came to the front of the queue Greg would leap up (demonstrating the ability of an Olympic Long Jump champion) and, holding on to a cross bar, either sign an autograph or have a selfie taken.
There was a great atmosphere at the arena when I arrived on the Sunday, something that had not come across on the rather disappointing Vinco live streaming on Saturday, and the chatter was all about our new heroine in Heptathlon, Katrina Johnson Thomson (KJT). Her 1.95m high jump certainly impressed while the Sunday crowd witnessed another personal best in the hurdles at 8.25secs.
Unfortunately for the Championships KJT was one of only three Olympic Podium-funded athletes on show at Sheffield. Thankfully Lawrence Clark also managed to win but the other star that deemed to attend, Hannah England was, we understand, suffering in the Sheffield air after her training in Kenya. Of the remaining 17 Olympic Podium funded athletes some are injured but it must be disappointing for organisers not to have the support of funded British athletes particularly when they attended the Birmingham Grand Prix the following week (eg Porter/Rutherford and planned Osagie). Perhaps attendance fees are paid for a Birmimgham appearance?. No wonder terrestrial TV coverage of the National Championships is a distant memory.
Whether or not you like the title that appears to have been given to Jo Pavey (Super-Mum), it has definitely been a year to remember for the athlete. I almost put '40-year-old' in front of 'athlete', but felt slightly uncomfortable. Should we be drawing attention to Jo's age all the time? Or the fact that she had only recently returned to athletics after giving birth to her second child? Both facts make Jo's achievement of winning European 10,000m gold quite remarkable.
Jo has deservedly become the 'darling' of British athletics supporters. Not only is Jo the oldest female European Champion ever, but she is the second fastest Briton over both 5000m and 10000m. Prior to her European gold medal, Jo had already prevented a Kenyan clean sweep in the Commonwealth 10,000m by taking a hard-fought bronze. And then the awards began, started (we would like to think) by being voted British Athletics Supporters Club 'Athlete of the Year’.
For the first time in living memory the Olympic Games athletics schedule features finals in the morning sessions. Of course this could be seen either as a smart move to ensure better crowds in the mornings, or as a cynical move to charge more for the morning sessions .. only time will tell.
London 2012 proved that you don't need to put finals in the morning sessions to ensure sell-out crowds. You just need a sports-mad public with a sense of the historic opportunity that a major championships provides. Not everywhere is like the UK though - which may be an argument for bringing the Olympics back to London!