The legacy of the London 2012 Games: the Olympic Stadium repurposed and reconsidered, by Beren Cross

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The London Olympic Stadium, repurposed, July 2015, photo by PhotoRun.net

When Beren Cross and I chatted on Saturday, we were discussing stories for that day and the next. While my editorial standards are sacrosanct (otherwise, the late James Dunaway visits me in my dreams), I do give my writers much freedom. 

Beren Cross was to write two pieces, on on Dina Asher-Smith and one on the Legacy of the London Olympic stadium. 

Here is the second. 

I think that he did a fine job. 


One of the buzzwords for Great Britain since the 2012 Olympic Games has been legacy, which was very much put to the test when British Athletics put tickets on sale for 2015's Anniversary Games.



Ironically, the stadium sold out on the Saturday rather than the Friday, when Olympic champions Usain Bolt and Mo Farah were the big draws.


More than 50,000 people packed into Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park for a taste, a flavour of what those who were here in 2012 got to sample on the 'Super Saturday' when Farah, Jessica Ennis-Hill and Greg Rutherford delivered three golds for the home nation.


The branding might have been different, the pricing might have been lower, the media attention might have been quieter and the national buzz might not have materialised at all, but the atmosphere inside this cauldron of performance was no different.


With a newly-extended roof, ready for West Ham United Football Club to move in next year, the cheers reverberated even deeper and the applause even longer.


On Saturday, Rutherford and Ennis-Hill were in place to provide that touch of authenticity the organisers needed to truly sell another 'Super Saturday' off the back of 2012.


Whilst the long jumper kept the back straight occupied with a mediocre leap of 8.18m for third place, Ennis-Hill delivered two more season's bests to go with Friday night's 12.79sec in the 100m hurdles.



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Jessica Ennis, photo by PhotoRun.net


A 6.37m long jump was followed by a 23.49sec 200m, which kept the 2012 fire burning for one more day at least.


"I've absolutely loved it. I came back and competed in 2013 and it wasn't the same because I was struggling with my Achilles, but the buzz has been incredible," she said.


"I've just really enjoyed the adrenaline. It's always loud."

Rutherford put aside his disappointment from the runway with his own upbeat assessment of how another home crowd delivered a reminder of his greatest day in the sport three years ago.


"The crowd were out of this world, everything was incredible and I would have liked to have a win again so that is what has really hurt me," he said.


"Obviously last time I was here was the greatest sporting day of my life and then to come away here with a third is not great, so I'm not pleased with that at all.


"But again, I take my hat off to everybody who came out, it was a brilliant crowd and a fantastic competition."


David Rudisha was another man the crowd had crammed in to see. The 800m world record-holder set his personal best on this same track three years ago, and his legend has long been re-told across Great Britain since that day he won Olympic gold.


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Amos and Rudisha battle, photo by PhotoRun.net


It was not the Rudisha an armchair supporter was accustomed to seeing. Some were confused why the great man did not lead from the gun, or simply make another world record look as easy as he did in 2012.


There was even more confusion as Nijel Amos snuck past in the home straight, inflicting another defeat upon the Kenyan. What had happened to his own personal legacy of 2012?


"I'm happy and excited to be back here, my race here in 2012 was special, everybody talks about it, it was a wonderful race," he said.


"I'm trying to run a more tactical race and I almost had the win a few metres from the line. There's still a few weeks until the World Championships. I'm building my mileage and my speed is okay."


One of the lesser known faces around the track was the American Molly Huddle, who became one of the heroes of the day for the British crowd, as she valiantly attempted to hold off the insatiable acceleration of Kenya's Mercy Cherono in the women's 5,000m.



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Molly Huddle leads, photo by PhotoRun.net


The American record-holder was the only runner in the 18-strong field which followed the pace of compatriot Gabriele Grunewald, who ticked off kilometres one and two in 2min 59sec apiece.


When pacemaker Grunewald stepped off the track Huddle was all alone in the vast expanse of track and stadium. Lap-by-lap Cherono closed the gap until finally passing with 300 metres to go.


The 30-year-old is one of those who was able to compare this weekend's meeting with her own experiences of London three years ago.


"That was crazy. I wasn't sure if they were cheering for me or for a field event," she said.


"In the prelims in London I led for quite a while and so I had flashbacks of that. It feels like you're having an out-of-body experience, I'm not used to being at the front."


"It feels similar. The crowd is amazing. They come out and don't settle for watching it on TV. It makes it a very special place for athletics.


"I have great memories of the Olympics and it's nice to be reminded of that time.


"On the last lap I was hurting and I just went until I burned out because I thought what else can you do when everyone is cheering for you."

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