Anniversary Games Diamond League Athletics

Usain Bolt London Anniversary Games Diamond League

Twelve months on from London 2012, the Athletics Diamond League London Grand Prix, with the adopted name ‘Anniversary Games’, had many of the elements of last year’s great Olympics; everyone was nice to each other again, and the crowd was a large mix of people, across all ages, male and female and of both different races and nationalities. Contrary to the pre-Games cynicism from some, it turned out the achievement of bringing the Olympics to London by Tony Blair’s New Labour Government and Seb Coe created not just community spirit, but gave Great Britain the nearest feeling to socialism there has been in generations.

Nothing could totally recreate the atmosphere from the Olympic Park last summer with events in different venues coming think and fast, and though many were there to bring back memories of a magical experience, a world class field in a now iconic setting meant the Anniversary Games were more than just nostalgia. Tickets for both days of the Grand Prix sold in 75 minutes and the headline act on the Friday Night in the Olympic Stadium was Usain Bolt in the 100 metres, which took away any feeling of anti-climax.

The greatest of athlete of our time and probably of all-time so far, along with Michael Johnson, Bolt is a already recognized as legend in his own lifetime. As soon as he stepped out on the track he was surrounded by the photographers that were waiting for his entrance and the focus of the crowd remained on him until the stadium emptied during his crowd-pleasing lap of honour.

He won his race after a sluggish start in 9.85 on the fast London track after effectively giving the rest of the field a 20m start. It is a shame it has taken a tax break for a man who doesn’t need it to return to London outside of the Games haven, but this stadium will continue to be a draw for the best in the world.

Earlier Bohdan Bondarenko of the Ukraine had two attempts to break the World Record in the High Jump, Olympic Champion Kirani James showed his class in a quality field in the 400m, and Warren Weir won the 200m.

It was the home success that took the Games to another level and on the first evening of the Anniversary Games local athlete Perri Shakes-Drayton achieved a personal best in the 400m hurdles; she seemed to go off too hard in the first 200m before trailing home in second place, but she continues to get better and was still bouncing with joy in her post race interview with trackside host Iwan Thomas, exclaiming with pleasure of being recognized on the DLR on her way to the stadium that day.

And it was British women who produced the most exciting moment of the night with the 4 x 100m team not only getting round without dropping the baton, but being surprise winners with a best team time for 12 years.  Suddenly, with Perri Shakes-Drayton part of a strong 4 x 4 team, the British women have outside medal hopes in both relays.

The men’s 4 x100m dropped the baton on the Saturday, not for the first time, but on the Friday evening Adam Gemili showed his potential in an all British 100m, not part of the Diamond League, but great for British Athletics. The next day Katherine Grainger explained on the BBC it was the atmosphere at events like this that could keep her going to another Games; this, the very fact Athletics meetings are now regularly back on prime-time BBC, and the confidence Britain now has a sporting nation, are all reminders of some of the knock-on successes of hosting a great Olympics in London. And a constant reminder will be a proper Athletics stadium that will host this event every year is another.

MG

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