AS a writer for Athletics Weekly I used to attend athletics events all the time. From grass roots to international meets I was there, notebook in hand ready to interview the athletes as they stepped off track.
Since leaving the magazine, I haven’t been to any live events, which is a real shame. I love athletics. I always have. There’s nothing I like more than watching the elite athletes show how it’s done.
These days, I’m an arm-chair athletics fan. If athletics is on telly I make sure I’m watching, preferably with a bag of minstrels in hand. While there is nothing wrong with watching sport from the comfort of your home, it doesn’t come close to the excitement of actually being there.
You can imagine my excitement when Chris came home from work a few weeks back with news that a company he works with had given us tickets to the British Indoor Championships.
‘Pardon?’ I said.
Chris waved a piece of paper. ‘Two tickets. British Indoor Championships.’
‘How?’ Chris is an accountant, which is a bit of a conversation-killer really. In all his years of doing sums and spreadsheets, he’s never come home with any freebies.
It turns out that Chris works with Grant Thornton, partners of UK Athletics. And sure enough, they had kindly supplied two tickets to watch the athletics. I’ve never been so pleased to have an accountant as my other half!
The championships were at the English Institute of Sport in Sheffield. We’d got tickets for Sunday, day two of the championships. I couldn’t wait.
Before we set off I made sure I completed my run. It’s a bit strange, but I can only watch athletics if I’ve done my workout for the day. Then I can sit back, relax and enjoy the action, munching on minstrels to my heart’s content. So I did a quick three miles and off we went.
The day started with the walk. This event fascinates me, because they certainly go at speed. Not far off my 3,000 run pace actually.
While some of the sprint heats were underway we had a walk round, trying to spot a few sporting celebrities. As it turns out, I’m really good at this (Steve Cram, Kelly Sotherthon, Jason Gardener, Martyn Rooney, Hannah England), whereas Chris isn’t. He walked past Steve cram without a second glance. He did, however, spot my former colleague from Athletics Weekly, even though he’s never met her before.
We watched some fantastic performances, which were all the more dramatic given places for the IAAF World Indoor Championships in Portland were up for grabs. Highlights included: Hannah England winning the 1500m, Luke Cutts, a local athlete, winning the pole vault, Steph Twell in the 3,000m, Tiffany Porter dominating the 60m women’s hurdles, and Tom Bosworth setting a national indoor record in the 3,000m race walk. I also really enjoyed seeing Louise Bloor’s storming run in the 200m, winning in a personal best of 23.39, a day after finishing third in the 60m race.
The performance of the day came in the last event, the women’s 800m final. I thought it would be between Lynsey Sharp and Jenny Meadows. They were certainly battling it out, shoulder to shoulder for most of the race. But then! On the home straight, with only metres to go, Adelle Tracey took the lead, crossing the line first in 2:02.99. Leah Barrow came from nowhere to take second pace in a personal best of 2:03.18. It was such a fantastic race to watch, and the best race to end the championship. I was on the edge of my seat, shouting and cheering them on. I may even have spilled a few minstrels.
We had such an amazing day. Thank you to Grant Thornton for the tickets. My passion for athletics was renewed. I certainly won’t be leaving it as long before I go again.