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British Athletics Supporters Club Diary - Part 4

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Supporters Club

A unique series from British Athletics Supporters Club members on the Olympic Games, led by Richard Cooper, Sandra Hogben and Jane Ainsworth in the UK, and Philip Andrew, in Beijing.

 

26th August 2008

 

Beijing

 

Our idiot of the week award goes jointly to the man who left the stadium early and missed the world record in the 4x100 and the one who was so hung over that he didn't use his ticket to the swimming for Phelps eighth gold ( black market value $1,500).  We have been really privileged to have seen three sprint gold medals.   Many of the team out here have had the pleasure of not only seeing world records in the stadium but also seeing the other star of the Olympics Michael Phelps.  The GB team superstars have been Chris Hoy and Rebecca Adlington and the pundits here are wondering how long it will be before Gordon Brown attempts to curry some public favour by awarding gongs appropriately!

 

Philip

 

UK

 

The medals keep coming; the Athens’ total has already been matched, with power to add over the last couple of days.  Yesterday we had a fantastic bronze from Tasha Danvers-Smith.  Perhaps above all others in Team GB, she divides opinion, not least in our household, so it was fantastic to see her charge down the final straight rather than looking as though she were wading through treacle.  Nor was she far off silver at the line and followed that up by coming a close second to Melaine Walker on earring size at the medal ceremony.

 

Poor Phillips looked gutted at only (!) getting silver this evening.  If he had to lose to anyone, I’d rather it was Evora, who’s a lovely bloke.  Hopefully the pressure on Phillips in 2012 won’t be as extreme now as if he’d gone in as reigning local champion (see Liu Xiang); importantly he has got another go, just as Edwards had after Atlanta.

 

More good performances from Michael Rimmer (MUCH better than Osaka), Christian Malcolm (he might have bronze by now, the rate the disqualifications are going) and Larry Achike, as well as superb national records from Jo Jackson in the walk and Goldie Sayers, who was really unlucky to miss out on a medal in a superb javelin competition.  Did anyone else think that the rest of the competitors were backing Špotáková?  The least said about the pole vault and the men’s sprint relay, the better.

 

Anticipation was high for the final decathlon and field event action. Although our viewing was hampered by the BBC's continuing habit of repetition of past stuff and the wasted use of one interactive channel showing whatever was on the main channel, we were offered enough of the decathlon events to see that Roman just wasn't back at his best, so someone else had to win; Brian Clay sadly fails to inspire BASC followers. Where did the Cuban bronze medallist come from? Hurrah for a newcomer, and hurrah for Daniel Awde. To come 21st in his first major contest, breaking two PBs, was commendable. Perhaps from now on he and Kelly can train for the throws together? He could become a worthy successor to Deano.

 

Didn't Steve Hooker, the Aussie pole vaulter, and Tia Hellebaut, the Belgian high jumper, demonstrate the talent and tenacity that can win gold medals for those not in the number 1 spot? Mind you, both have proved before that they raise their game at championships. Team GB please note.

 

The men's 4x400m relay heat gave us what turned out to be our last British hurrah: Andrew Steele's stonking first leg gave Rob Tobin a lead which he held on to, which Michael Bingham increased, enabling Martyn Rooney to swan home. We knew the final would be tough and it proved to be one race too many; as did the women's race, without Lee McConnell. Why haven't we strength in depth in these events? We have 25 times the population of Jamaica, so where are our backup runners, jumpers, throwers?

 

As lifelong athletics fans, we have thought about our three greatest disappointments and three “magical moments” from Beijing 2008. First, the disappointments:

 

Lisa Dobriskey and Andy Baddeley: I have never understood how it can be good tactics for 1500m runners to stay 3/4 way down the field, blocked in the inside lane for 3 laps, hoping the field will miraculously clear during lap 4. They both do this far too often;

 

Nicola Sanders - for this she forswore Valencia? Get out and race, woman!

 

Team GB's 4x100 relay runners and their manager.

 

Not being there.  It’s torture.  You feel a muppet screaming at the TV, and more importantly you can’t see what’s going on all around the stadium.  Horrible, horrible, horrible; mercifully our Berlin World Championships tickets are due to arrive any day now.

 

Maurren Higa Maggi.  Never mind the compulsive crossing yourself and breaking down on the podium; you were banned for drugs once, you shouldn’t be there.  Give Lebedeva the medal now.

 

Relays.

 

…and the highs…

 

Usain Bolt's record-breaking 200m run; Tia Hellebaut's high jump winning performance, coupled with Germaine Mason's silver in the men's event; and Christine Ohoruogu's 400m win, a demonstration of discipline and power.

 

3 National records, 2 surprise medallists, more surprise finalists and a decent number of PBs. Although the media will point to a lack of medals, as we said at the start, we are more interested in seeing our athletes get it right on the big day. There were some obvious exceptions, but this was much better than Athens in terms of PBs.

 

The women’s high jump and men’s pole vault finals; this is why you shouldn’t limit the number of attempts (are you listening IAAF?)

 

Jamaica.


Sandra and Jane