Every two years, the IAAF (International Association of Athletics Federations) holds the World Championships, a nine-day global event bringing together around 1,800 athletes from about 200 countries. This time round, it was London’s turn to host the Championships, and really our whole trip was based around this event, having bought the tickets many months in advance.
On the evening of Friday 4th, we headed out, up the Central line, to Stratford, and the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. The park was built for the London Olympics and Paralympics in 2012 and is the most amazing venue! The athletics is, of course, based in the London Stadium, but the park is also home to the Aquatics Centre, Athlete’s Village, and an observation tower/London’s biggest piece of public art, the ArcelorMittal Orbit.
We managed to get tickets for the very first night of athletics, which also included the ‘Opening Ceremony’. Following a short introduction from host and ex-sprinter, Iwan Thomas, a handful of retrospective medals were distributed. It has been hard to avoid the news relating to the IAAF’s recent doping scandal, and the various disqualifications following the independant enquiry. So as a result, a number of athletes who missed out on medals to doped athletes were eventually rewarded, including the British heptathlete, Dame Jessica Ennis-Hill. The medal ceremonies were followed by a rendition of the British national anthem by Rebecca Ferguson of X Factor fame, and speeches from HRH The Duke of York, Lord Sebastian Coe, and Sadiq Khan, the Mayor of London. Eventually though, it was onto the main event!
It kicked off the the men’s 100m preliminaries, followed by the heats. The buzzing in the stadium was palpable as we waited for the arrival of the fastest man in the world (well… not any more), Usain Bolt. Sadly, we were on the opposite side of the track to the 100m straight, but thankfully, Dad brought his zoom lens so managed to snap a couple of the man himself. Running 100m in under 10 seconds sounds like an amazing feat, but watching it live gives it a whole new level of awesome. If you think about it, that’s 10m in only one second-ish… bonkers. I only know that I couldn’t do it! Not by a long shot!
Other field events, such as men’s discus and long jump, and women’s pole vault were happening simultaneously. Following the 100m races came the women’s 1500m, featuring four British runners: Jessica Judd, Laura Muir, Laura Weightman, and Sarah McDonald. If you have been keeping track of the athletics, you’ll know that only Laura Muir and Laura Weightman continued onto the finals, but neither managed to grab a medal!
The final event of the night was the men’s 10,000m, featuring Sir Mo Farah, who, at the time of racing, was the world champion for the past two years running. The cheers when he came out onto the track were deafening, and continued like that until the end of the race, at which point they actually managed to get even louder! I didn’t think it was possible, but there you go! It was a great race, and superbly played by Mo, who again finished first, reclaiming his world title.
He was swiftly joined on the track by his wife and children, taking a swift, but well-earned, lap of honour before the medal ceremony began. Then, alas, it was time to head back to the hotel, trying to avoid the 60,000-strong crowd who would nearly all be heading for the same small Underground station.
It was such an enjoyable evening. All the staff, security personnel, and volunteers were so welcoming and helpful. This wasn’t the end of our athletics viewings though! Sunday brought the men’s Marathon into the centre of London, which we managed to catch before heading home. More on that to come!