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Night out at the ‘Field of Dreams’ – Olympic Stadium – 4 August 2012

Phil Whitehurst reports from the greatest night for British athletics ever.


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 success.

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 the race.

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 something special.

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.



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