Can you believe that this time last year we were about to storm into the now coined ‘Super Saturday’, a day when British athletics turned around to the rest of the Olympic participating world and basically yelled ‘ACTUALLY WE’RE BLOODY GOOD AT THIS RUNNING, JUMPING, THROWING LARK’? It was an evening when Team GB topped the medal podium three times in about 49 mins thanks to JEnnis-Hill, Mo Farah and Greg Rutherford. Even thinking about Jess’s 800m sprint to an already sealed victory makes me a bit over emotional.
So a year to the day that the Olympic Games opened in London, a band of enthusiastic spectators made their way back out to Stratford to see what difference a year makes as the now named Queen Elizabeth Park opened its gates to the Anniversary Games. This was a seriously clever move by Diamond League organisers as the event had to come to the UK anyway, so what better excuse to draw in the audience numbers than by tapping into the nostalgia of London 2012.
Although the attempt to recreate Super Saturday was thwarted before it began with an out of action Greg Rutherford and an injured JEnnis-Hill, I don’t really think the spectators cared too much, with the whole stadium buzzing as David Bowie’s ‘Heroes’ blasted out over the loud speaker. There were a few things I learnt from going to the Anniversary Games on Saturday, the first of which was this: Britain loves sport. So long as there’s not a Brit in contention of a top spot, we will cheer any winner of any nationality, get behind the athlete about to be lapped in the distance race and clap like wind up monkeys for the athlete about to try and break a world record. The noise generated in that stadium as JEnnis-Hill’s name was called out in the hurdles line up could probably have registered a number of noise complaints all the way over in Westminster it was that loud, whilst the constant cheer that followed Mo Farah round every lap of his 3000m was near deafening. When you take into account that the stadium is now missing about 20000 seats its almost scary to think how many decibels were reached during that hour on Saturday 4th August 2012
Another thing I learnt that day was that there was no way JEnnis-Hill was going to make the World Championships this year. A strapped up ankle and a hurdle time that even she admits she’d only ever get at the beginning of a season didn’t seem the makings of a World Championship contender. Although she was smiling and waving at the audience you also got the feeling there were a lot more nerves than the last time she’s appeared in the stadium, but as it was only her third proper meet of the year you could hardly blame her.
Lesson number three from the Anniversary Games, and probably the most important, is that whether it’s our stalwarts (minus Jess at the mo) or our up and coming athletes, there is a lot of talent in Team GB’s women at the moment. Christine Ohuruogu is on top form at the moment, coming in at 50 seconds during her 400m, whilst Perri Shakes-Dreyton, who ran on the Friday night, held on to second place and gained a PB against CZE’s Hejnova. Not only that, but with the upcoming World Championships many of our top athletes from each event chose to not compete at the Anniversary Games, leaving the lanes open for the younger athletes to gain some experience. Despite coming last in her 100m heat 22 year old Desiree Henry registered a PB of 11.50, 19 year old Jodie Williams came a respectable 5th in the 200m final whilst Katarina Johnson-Thompson proved she wasn’t just ‘the new JEnnis’ by winning the long jump with 6.46m fresh off the back of winning an under-23 heptathlon a week previously. Not bad for only being 20.
So there you have it. I even managed to get through this blog not once ever mentioning the sickening level of advertising, the stupid Kiss-Cam (sponsored by Magnum Kisses) and Colin Murray’s ridiculous comment about JEnnis’s bottom…