Tag Archive: Athletics


Immigration may seem a peculiar topic when talking about sport, but it is a subject that has been on my mind since Mo Farah became one of Britain’s most beloved sporting stars.

Icon | Mo Farah is idolised as a British sporting hero, putting him in the 'good immigration' bracket. (Image | NME)

Icon | Mo Farah is idolised as a British sporting hero, putting him in the ‘good immigration’ bracket. (Image | NME)

Few in this country will forget the sight of Farah winning gold in the 5,000 and 10,000 metres at the London 2012 Olympic Games: yet after the latter victory, Somali-born Farah had to deal with a journalist asking if he would have preferred to have run for Somalia, rather than Britain.

The 30-year-old gave the question short shrift, and has since developed into a sporting superstar, building on last year’s gold medals with two more at the World Athletics Championships last month.

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The World Championships in Athletics that follow an Olympic Games can often have the feeling of “going into the office the morning after the work Christmas party”. A bit of a let down following the thrill of the main event.

Expectation | As at the 2012 London Olympic Games, all eyes will be on Mo Farah, the main hope for British glory. (Image | Daily Express)

Expectation | As at the 2012 London Olympic Games, all eyes will be on Mo Farah, the main hope for British glory. (Image | Daily Express)

All the effort that went into the preparation for the London 2012 Olympic Games can drain an athlete, both physically and psychologically. Where do you go once you have climbed Mount Everest?

For the world’s premier track and field athletes, they head to Moscow for the 2013 World Championships. From a British perspective, this is not a meet to be anticipated with a great deal of confidence.

Of the trio that brought us that magic hour last summer, Jessica Ennis-Hill is absent with injury, while Greg Rutherford has suffered injury problems, and struggled for form all year. Only Mo Farah heads to Moscow looking like a potential world champion in waiting.

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I love the Olympic Stadium: the sheer majesty of the arena, and the fact that Britain has something approaching its very own sporting citadel. It stands as proof positive that the country is capable of building high-profile arenas on time, and on budget, after the shambles that was, and is, Wembley Stadium.

Full house | A year on from the London 2012 Olympic Games, the Olympic Stadium remains a special place. (Image | CBBC)

Full house | A year on from the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, the Olympic Stadium remains a truly special place, but one fraught with problems and contradictions. (Image | CBBC)

I love the sense of reverence you can feel from people as they make their way to the stadium. An intangible feeling of being part of something that is bigger than themselves.

I love the piquant aroma of positivity that seems to emerge from the place, like a perfume counter, making all that are in it feel a little more optimistic about life.

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In writing this article, I am breaking a promise to myself not to wade into the trial of Oscar Pistorius. It is not the case itself that I wish to address, moreover the saddening way in which the trial has ceased to become about the justice system in South Africa, and has devolved into a soap opera for our entertainment.

In the dock | Paralympian Oscar Pistorius stands in court in Pretoria, South Africa. (Image | The People)

In the dock | Paralympian Oscar Pistorius stands in court facing the charge of premeditated murder in Pretoria, South Africa. (Image | The People)

This was demonstrated when the presiding magistrate, Desmond Nair, granted Pistorius bail. However, before doing so, he explained at length his reasons behind his decision, which took almost two hours.

A flurry of tweets followed, mocking Nair for how long he was taking to reveal whether or not Pistorius would be granted bail. The subtext of these tweets was simple: “We’re bored. Skip to the end. Are you going to grant bail or not?”

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UK Sport, the body that allocates funding for elite British athletes, announced an increase of 11% for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games compared to the amount pledged for London 2012 earlier this month.

Going up | Dressage rider Charlotte Dujardin, a double gold medal winner in London, will benefit from an increase in funding for equestrian. (Image | The Telegraph)

Going up | Dressage rider Charlotte Dujardin, a double gold medal winner in London, will benefit from an increase in funding for equestrian. (Image | The Telegraph)

Certain sports, such as cycling, athletics and equestrian have had their budgets boosted in order to nurture further success in Brazil.

This change appears to be aimed at rewarding the disciplines that were predominant in the capital this summer.

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First time | The Ealing Half Marathon was launched this year to immense popularity. (Image | Active Spirit Events)

Earlier this year I signed up for the Ealing Half Marathon in west London. Having started running daily last summer, I really wanted to test myself by getting into a situation where I would be forced to run 13.1 miles. Safe to say, there were many moments when I wanted to give up, sit down, lie on the floor, go to the pub, have a bacon sandwich or just go to bed.

I resisted these temptations, however. Crossing the line in a time of 1 hour 47 minutes, I had only failed to reach my pre-race target by two minutes. Not bad for a first attempt, I thought, as I finished alongside plenty of other knackered half marathoners, some running their first race, but most part of clubs or serial entrants.

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Tough call | The line up for BBC Sports Personality of the Year 2012 could look rather like an early release of the New Year’s honours list. (Image | BBC)

Normally there is a shoe-in for the BBC Sports Personality of the Year award. Either that, or a dark horse is chosen once in a blue moon, as Ryan Giggs was back in 2009. By definition, the award recognises the sportsperson “whose actions have most captured the public’s imagination”. Created back in 1954, the titular category has rewarded figures from the world of athletics more than any other discipline, with 17 individuals selected in first place having been athletes.

With Team GB having excelled in a variety of areas across the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, this is likely to continue. However, the success of individuals from the home nations leaves what Premier League managers would describe as a “headache”, a conundrum. It is a rather nice problem to have, it must be said.

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The 100m and other Olympic rivalries

The world’s fastest man | Usain Bolt dominated the Beijing 2008 Olympics in a show of speed unparalleled in the history of the modern Olympic Games. (Image | New York Times)

While the Olympics is often the setting for breathtaking dominance (Jesse Owens in 1936, Mark Spitz in 1974, Carl Lewis in 1984 plus Usain Bolt and Michael Phelps in 2008), there is nothing like a great sporting rivalry. Watching one great athlete in action is a treat, but seeing them competing against an equal makes for compelling sport. Excellence is a special thing. Excellence combined with drama creates must-see television. Bolt, for example, is a sight to behold when in full flow. However, knowing that there is a realistic chance that he will not win gold adds a delicious frisson to the 100m.

Make no mistake, hanging the gold medal around Bolt’s neck at this stage is foolhardy. The form sprinter is not the reigning Olympic champion – it is his friend and team mate, Yohan Blake. Those who claimed that Blake’s victory in last year’s World Championships should come with an asterisk have been made to appear rather silly over the past 12 months.

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Marlon Devonish (left) and Dwain Chambers could be set to re-unite in the British 4x100m relay team this summer if the latter's ban is lifted by the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

The British Olympic Association (BOA) appear determined to keep Dwain Chambers, arguably Great Britain’s most famous sprinter of the last decade (perhaps for the wrong reasons) and currently one of the fastest men available to Charles van Commenee, out of London 2012. So determined, in fact, that the BOA has taken its case to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (Cas) to overturn a World Anti-Doping Association (Wada) ruling that its unconventional life ban for athletes found guilty of using drugs is too excessive.

The likelihood is, it appears, that the ruling will be upheld and Chambers will available for selection.

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