We always ask Stuart Weir to provide a different bit on various athletics meetings. As Stuart was covering Loughborough International, we were quite happy with the outcome. We think you will be as well.
Loughborough International Athletics
The 59th annual Loughborough International Athletics event took place on Sunday at the Paula Radcliffe Stadium with Loughborough Students taking on teams from England, Wales, Ireland, Great Britain & Northern Ireland Juniors, and British Universities in what the event website calls “the athletics season’s traditional curtain raiser”. I arrived early but did not see anyone raising a curtain, let alone a traditional curtain. Match races also include guests as well as races just for guests. In the men’s programme, for example, in addition to the match race, there were 6 guest 100m races.
Loughborough is a university town in the East Midlands of England whose sporting alumni include Seb Coe and Paula Radcliffe. The University website tells you that Loughborough won 12 medals in Rio and had it been a country it would have been 17th on the medals table – ahead of New Zealand and Canada.
Patrons (if the Augusta National can call spectators at The Masters “patrons”, I don’t see why I can’t) pay Â£8 for entrance. This entitles them to sit on the grass or on the folding chairs the wise ones have brought with them. They can also stand on the balcony provided it has not reached its capacity. (Your correspondent speaks from experience as he was allowed to walk north to south along the balcony but not to return south to north on the now over capacity balcony and was forced to find a different route).
Patrons get their money’s worth. The first event was at 11.20am and the 76th event at 6.10pm but have no fear for their survival. As, the website tells us, sustenance is available from:
- Pizza Pod
- Gourmet Burger Gazebo
- Cupcake Stand
- Organic Coffee House
- Licensed Bar
The slogan on Gourmet Burger Gazebo is “when life throws a burger at you, eat it!” It is a university, so you should expect philosophy with your burger.
The stadium announcer told it like it is “I cannot identify the runner in lane 8, as he is not included in yesterday’s start list that I was working from”. The announcer also explained to TV crews what field events are – adding that it was OK to film them!
Louise Bloor got a conduct warning in one of the women’s Guest A 100m race. I have been unable to establish what wickedness led to this action but I understand that the consequences are automatic relegation to the Guest B race next year.
Among the international athletes participating were Norway’s Ezinne Okparebo in the 100m. Ricardo dos Santos Soares (Portugal) won the wonderfully named 400m guest B race in 47.50 but I wonder if he did enough to be invited back next year to run in the Guest A race.
There were excellent performances by Andy Pozzi, running two World Championship qualifying times in the same afternoon. It was also a successful afternoon for the Kilty household with Richard winning the 200m in 20.76 while fiancÃ©e, Lithuania’s Dovile Dzindzaletaite, won the women’s triple jump with 13.51m.
This was athletics as it should be with the sun shining, spectators able to watch field-events close up, elite athletes wandering around signing autographs and posing for selfies. Some in the IAAF feel that the sport needs spicing up – and I am sure it does – but I can report that traditional athletics is alive and thriving on a sunny Sunday afternoon in rural England.
But it was Sophie Hahn who stole the show at the as she streaked to a new T38 100m world record.
Full results at http://lia.athletics-uk.org/