Bauhaus Stockholm DL, photo courtesy of IAAF/Getty Images
The Stockholm Diamond League is a meet rich in tradition and history. The home of the 1912 Olympics, and the birthplace of the IAAF, Stockholm is one of my favorite cities on the tour.
Sweden is athletics crazy. Swedish track stars are stars for life, and the community and culture treasures them. The DN Galen (former name of meeting) was a weeklong celebration of athletics.
Now, as Bauhaus Stockholm (think Menards, or a fine hardware store), and with the City of Stockholm's blessing, the meet is on the way back.
It broke my heart when the meet began to descend from totally sold out and supported, to good intentions but a less than complete appreciation of the culture of athletics. In 2012, when Rajne Söderberg left the meeting, Stockholm DL was left rudderless. The athletes were concerned and so was the athletic community.
It happen all over. A meet director is a special sort. Businessman, cheerleader, athletic enthusiast, great relationships, Rajne Söderberg could paste support from around the community. Mark Wetmore does it in New York and Boston, and Tom Jordan does it in Eugene. Yet, for some reason, outsiders sometimes believe that anyone can do it. If anyone can not do brain surgery, and surely meet directors are a complicated lot, then anyone can not do meet directing successfully.
The Stockholm meet began to crumble. Stalwarts stayed but the crowds dropped several thousand each year. That had not happened in 30 years!
I am happy to report that the meet is back in good hands. While Rajne has decided to retire from athletics management, Daniel Wessfeldt, the acclaimed manager is working on the meet. When I asked Daniel what message that the meet wants to get out, he said: "With the new sponsor, Stockholm has financial stability, and with the support of the City of Stockholm, were are coming back to past levels."
We hope that fans show up. There will be a fine meeting in 2015, and next year, a better date. There is a shot put on Wednesday evening, 5 pm local time with 6 pm Women's Diamond League in the city center.
The meeting starts on Thursday, July 30 at 4 pm with the Triple Jump and the Diamond League events begin around 7.20 P.M.
All track fans, true track fans need to visit Stockholm. Soak in the history. Walk on the hallowed wooden track where Paavo Nurmi warmed up (still there, under the stands).
When Chris Turner, IAAF communications manager and good friend, gave me my first tour in 2011, I was a geek in awe. And to watch a meeting here is a life treat.