I went to my first live athletics event on Saturday at the Olympic Stadium in London. It was very exciting! We had a long jump competition in front of where we were sitting, and there was high jump, javelin and shot put going on elsewhere whilst a whole assortment of track qualifiers and finals were taking place. A large and vocal crowd enthusiastically cheered the winners and supported the losers with applause and waves of admiration and appreciation.Super-fit, talented athletes participated in hard fought competitions as gold medals were won, world records set and a whole raft of seasonal and life-time bests were logged. It was an amazing sporting spectacle,
The athletes themselves seemed to really enjoy the competition, in particular the support they received from the crowd. Of course we were biased, with the Brits (and Irish) receiving the biggest cheers, but no-one was ignored or shouted down; being close to the long jump, we joined in with the supportive rhythmic clapping for whichever athlete asked for it, even though at one point it seemed to help push our guy into 4th place and therefore out of medal contention. He’s still young, competing in his first world championships; I predict big success for him in the future!
At the end of each final race, the winners took their lap of honour, many coming close to the crowd. Being a Saturday, there were lots of families there; as the victors came near by, lots of the kids ran down to the front to get a chance to give their new heroes a high five, or grab a selfie, and they were rarely disappointed. Some athletes seemed to take an age to complete their circuit!
All this excitement and interest is an amazing legacy of the 2012 Olympics. For this was the World Para Athletics we were attending, the top of disability sport. The incredible long-jumpers in front of us were partially-sighted, the javelin throwers had major co-ordination issues and as for the one-legged high jumpers, well that was one of the most inspiring things I have seen! Wheelchair athletes and runners competed on the track (not at the same time of course!); the times recorded were stunning. Nothing was going to hold them back.
I was thrilled to see Kadeena Cox race in 100 metres. I find this young woman so inspiring. Already an athlete, she was suddenly diagnosed with multiple sclerosis when she was 22 and it looked like her sports career was over. But she fought back and has fulfilled her potential with so many achievements. How she puts her body through the rigours of training and competing is beyond me; she won the 400m sprint on Friday to then compete again on Saturday, despite being up half the night with muscle spasms. That is dedication!
Some are quick to criticise her, but I’m not sure why. She is, after-all, only continuing with her chosen career (athletics). She is quite open and honest about how she is making the most of it whilst she can, as she just doesn’t know if she will be able to do it tomorrow. It’s easy to criticise, harder to do what she does! If she inspires others with MS not to give up and make the most of their situation, whatever that may be, then that’s to be applauded.
I am so glad to have experienced this incredible day of sport; we have tickets to see the World Athletics Championships also at The Olympic Stadium next month so it will be interesting to compare the two events. I’m sure there won’t be quite as many families there though, as the price of tickets is incomparable! Lets hope everyone who is there enjoys it as much as we all did on Saturday.