A unique track meet and Punch and Judy*
The Loughborough International Athletics is one of a kind. Held in the Paula Radcliffe stadium, the starts at 11.20am and finishes about 6.30pm. The program lists 38 track events and 16 field events but that is an understatement as, for example, event T10 the women’s guest 100m race is actually 4 races with 23 sprinters involved.
There is a match between Loughborough University, England, Scotland, Wales, British Universities and a GB Juniors Team but in addition 18 guest races. England, by the way won both the men’s and women’s matches.
One of the most exciting events was the men’s hammer throw with Scotland’s Mark Dry winning with 72.35 from Taylor Cambell (72.31), who had lead until the fifth round.
Other winners included:
Daryll Neita (England) W 100m 11.53
Jess Judd (Loughborough) W 3000 9.05.16
Allan Smith (Scotland) High Jump 2.23
Having often been at an event where I have found the long-jump or pole vault 75 yards from my seat, I appreciate the informality of the LIA where spectators can walk around the arena and stand behind the throwers or right beside the long jump bit. The pole vault can be watched from just next to the bar or from the balcony one can look down on it.
With no seats provided, spectators either bring their own folding seats or sit on the grass – they don’t call it grass-roots athletics for nothing! One often hears Seb Coe – himself a Loughborough alumnus – talk about the need to modernize and attract spectators to our sport. I am not against that, but I can report than traditional athletics is alive and well in Loughborough.
*A traditional British puppet show. See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Punch_and_Judy