Night out at the ‘Field of Dreams’ – Olympic Stadium – 4 August 2012
Phil Whitehurst reports from the greatest night for British athletics
I knew when Kelly Williams told Michele she had tickets for the 10k
final at the Olympics, it would be a good night, but I wasn’t quite
prepared for how good…
When we arrived at West Ham station with Kelly and Rachel (Kelly’s
sister), it was apparent that there was a very big event on – thousands
of people making their way to the Olympic Park at Stratford, but with
great organisation and helpers lining the route, we got to the park in
very good time. We had a wander around, taking in some of the landmark
buildings, especially the velodrome, which is a real work of art.
After a quick McDonalds for Michele (which we had to wait half an hour
for – hardly fast food!), we entered the main stadium. What struck me
was that the size of the place looked smaller than on TV. You really
felt close to the action. We were placed at one end, just near the long
jump pit, which turned out to be a great place to be.
We watched the hurdles first, and Dai Greene going through to the finals
was a great start. The noise as he was announced on the track was
deafening – but things were due to get louder.
What you don’t hear on the TV is the roar as the GB long jumpers go for
their runs – wow! It was truly amazing, and hopefully helped Greg
Rutherford go for it on his 8.31 m gold medal jump. Lots of his major
competitors kept getting foul jumps, which was a great help in his
The main feast then began with the heptathlon 800m heats. Johnson
Thompson ran a great heat under the thunderous roar of the crowd, but we
knew it was going to be something else when Jess Ennis came out.
As the final heat got underway, the whole stadium was on its feet. The
roar built throughout the two laps, and as Jess eased past her rivals on
the final straight, it went past the pain barrier. It was something
quite unlike anything we’d experienced in athletics before, and a
fantastic win, even though she didn’t technically need to come first in
Then Mo Farah entered the stadium. He was in great spirits, raising his
arms to the crowd, who all cheered in response, in expectation of
Then came my favourite race of the evening. I have a love hate
relationship with the 10k. It’s a race distance that means pain over an
extended duration, where everything can hurt at the end. But I know the
rewards of a good time are worth it. It would be interesting to see how
the world’s top athletes approach this event.
The start came all too quickly, and they were quietly underway, settling
into an unbelievable rhythm of speed. The turns round the track came up
so fast that you didn’t expect it – hard to believe they were covering
400m in such a quick time. As Mo went past, the crowd around us roared,
and we all stood, creating a Mexican wave running in time with Mo as he
passed by. It was staggering to see 80,000 people all in synchrony with
this small-framed athlete.
As the jostling went by on the track, the crowd willed him on. Mo
settled into a clever race tactic, biding his time, and not pushing the
pace. As the final laps approached, he moved forward, testing the other
athletes, pushing and pushing and you could see he was dominating the
race. 600m out, he made the big move into the lead. The crowd became
unbearably loud, passing the pain barrier. It was spine-tingling.
The final lap was all about willing him on, Kelly, Rachel, Michele and I
were all feeling queasy with the emotion of it all!
Mo kept the competition just out of touch, having learned from his
mistake at the World’s where he went too hard in the last lap. The
competition couldn’t touch him this time, and he brought home the gold
in such style.
What an evening. We hung around for the gold medal ceremony for Jess
Ennis, which was another proud moment to end an unbelievable
once-in-a-lifetime experience! I think we experienced probably the most
amazing athletics experience of the whole games.