Athletics – the heartbeat of the Olympics

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Whilst the Olympics incorporates 26 sports, ranging from Archery to Volleyball, there’s one that stands out above all others. Athletics.

And so, having been to 15 sessions, numbers 16 and 17 would be rather extra special with tickets to both the morning and evening session of Day 10 of the London Olympic games.

Watching the scarcely believable evening for British Athletics on Saturday it was apparent we won’t see another night like it and with only Dai Greene a realistic hope for a medal this evening it was a chance to enjoy some of the best athletes the rest of the world can offer.

And what a place to view them from. It really is a wonderful stadium, even in my
£20 category E seat this morning, the sight lines were very good and from experiences in football grounds with similar capacities, it is comparatively intimate. The scoreboards are clear as are the two big screens whilst the narrator did a good job of keeping the spectators aware of proceedings. That said, I did have an earphone in listening to Radio 5 live which really added to the viewer experience.

The one thing you do get on television (or listening to radio) is a real understanding as to who is the favourite and a rounded background as to their personal bests, recent form and expectations – all very useful when watching something you may well not know a great deal about. I didn’t sense many Women’s shot put experts around me.

As an example, I couldn’t help feel that when for example, the huge favourite Isinbayeva could only clear 4.7m in the pole vault, that the crowd were largely unaware of the shock element of what had happened. I was certainly glad I’d done some research and had the radio. I guess it’s fair enough that you can’t have a stadium announcer getting themselves in a position where they are accused of putting additional pressure on an athlete by announcing what a large favourite they are.

Overall, the athletics really lived up to the billing. Evening Athletics tickets are the hottest in town and rightly so. What is billed as ‘The Greatest Show On Earth’ certainly felt like it. From cheering Usain Bolt as he collected his gold medal, to screaming Perry Drakes Shayton (just) into the final of the 400m, 2h 40 minutes flew by.

A great evening couldn’t be improved when Dai Greene came 4th to narrowly miss out on a medal, but I’ll be back on Wednesday and fingers crossed I’ll yet see GB grab a medal these games. It would seem a shame to go to so many events and not at least witness one first hand.

 

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