Tuesday, 25 August 2009

Roll of Honour

A year ago, the British Athletics team returned from the Olympics with its tail between its legs. Our athletes contributed just 1 gold and 3 other medals to our haul - a performance that was seen as lacklustre, falling short of a target of five medals and paling next to stunning Cycling, Rowing and Swimming performances.

Last weekend the World Athletics Championships in Berlin came to an end. At the beginning of the week a certain amount of cynicism about our prospects would have been understandable. Our target was 5 medals again, but how would we fair in the real world? Well, the answer was surprisingly well - a six medal haul (2 each of Gold, Silver and Bronze) - was our best result in 10 years...

As always, there were highs and lows - some disappointments and some unexpected (at least for the casual follower) successes. I've already made mention in this column of Jessica Ennis and Phillips Idowu in this column - but I make no apologies for mentioning them again!

After missing the Beijing games, Jessica Ennis became the latest in a distinguished line of British Multi-Eventers - Mary Peters, Daley Thompson, Denise Lewis, Dean Macey, Kelly Sotherton - to reach the top of her sport, and the first to win the World Championship Heptathlon Gold for Britain.

Phillips Idowu's career began in the shade of the World Record holder Jonathan Edwards and last year he got Silver in Beijing. This year he managed a Personal Best and Gold.

Although the ultimate measure of success is the number of medals won, sometimes I feel we do not recognise those athletes who achieve season and lifetime bests in the pursuit of the goal. This is a theme addressed in this blog by the BBC's Tom Fordyce. It's also appropriate in this regard to mention Greg Rutherford who came fifth in the long jump final but had set a new British Record in the qualifying rounds.

Back in the medal table, however, our next medalist was Jenny Meadows who ran a great 800 metres to claim bronze with a personal best and the third fastest time by a British woman ever. Another bronze came courtesy of the Men's 4x100m behind the Caribbean powerhouses of Jamaica (including, of course, Usain Bolt) and Trinidad and Tobago.

Our final medals came on the last day; Lisa Dobriskey gained a silver in the 1500 metres after the second placed athlete was disqualified and our 4 x 400m squad went one better than the sprint relay team and took the second place.

So there you have it - the British Roll of Honour. We may have missed out on medals from Christine Ohuruogu and Paula Radcliffe. There may have been other athletes who under-performed. But the team as a whole produced a sterling effort to beat expectations as they begin the long road to London 2012.



oneexwidow said...

Apologies for the tardiness in the timing of this post - it has been in the works since Tuesday but other things kept getting in the way!

Apologies also for the formatting - for some reason Blogger gets rid of my spaces between paragraphs - which can be very frustrating. i promise to sort this out, but for now a Grand Prix is calling.

oneexwidow said...

Formatting now sorted!