Since I began blogging I have touched a lot on taboo subjects like religion and politics and controversial ones like immigration and homosexuality, but there have been several blogs on less intense subjects (depending on your viewpoint) such as sport. I have been a lifelong sports fan and have touched on several sports but not until now athletics. My athletic accomplishments have been few and far between such as when at school, in the putting the shot event, I had some aptitude, and in my middle age I ran half marathons and completed a full one. Yet athletics is a sport I have followed since as a boy when I watched Saturday afternoon BBC Grandstand with David Coleman commentating. I was drawn by the dedication and skill needed, and drama (that I never remotely had) to do well.
These thoughts crossed my mind when I watched an hour or so this afternoon the World’s Athletics Championship from China. It reminded me why I found this fascinating. Firstly, there were the pundits: Michael Johnson and Daley Thompson, both legends in their respective disciplines in days gone by, who spoke with such authority and understanding and, dare I say it, respect. Then there were the two events that particularly caught my imagination as I watched earlier (and no doubt there might be many I didn’t watch): the women’s heptathlon, won by British athlete Jessica Ennis-Hill, and the men’s 100 metres final, won by Usain Bolt. It was the way Jessica won, the quality of her performance and to think a year ago she had a baby and how she built up to peak performance that captivated me. I was struck by the performance of her team mate too, who might have got the silver medal if she hadn’t faulted in one of the events. As for Usain, I was impressed how he began fairly modestly in the earlier rounds but showed his class in the final, much to the relief of the commentators, just beating his main rival who has been twice banned for drug cheating.
I understand that for Jessica and Usain and other elite athletes their main aim is to peak at next year’s Olympic games. Now that is a prospect to look forward to along with many others!