In Slaughterhouse Five, we find a novel written by the late Kurt Vonnegut, a Gerrman-American writer.The main character is Billy Pilgrim, who time travels between his various realities.
In Stuart Weir’s world this past weekend, we went from the Arena with better appreciation of the events and the athletes. We travel around the stadium, and see event after event, regardless of the time of day.
In this column, Stuart provides some of the background fom which events can be better appreciated. We thank him for his insights into Glasgow 2019.
A brilliant European Indoor Championships came to a spectacular end, with high quality athletics. The Sunday night program consisted of nine individual finals, the climax of the heptathlon and two relays. But you could not have written the script better! My only criticism of the evening was that there were often two or more events taking place simultaneously so that it was hard to take in everything that was happening.
Many of these events will be the subject of separate posts but let me try to give an overall summary. There were brilliant and world class field events – particularly the absorbing contest in the women’s long jump and pole vault. On the track there were two superb 800 metre races and the long awaited 1500 races. We saw shocks as Olympic champions, defending European champions and other star performers were beaten.
The one favorite who did not let down the sell-out Scottish crowd was Laura Muir who was as majestic in winning the 1500m as she had been in the 3000m. Muir is not only British, she is Scottish and an adopted Glaswegian. More than once this week she has expressed surprise at the level of noise in the arena and the depth of feeling towards her. That, she admitted, had added to her pressure but she rose to the occasion. She set a record as the only person ever to defend two titles successfully in the event.
The 4 by 400 relay is the traditional last event and is generally regarded as one of the most exciting events in the program. The excitement is multiplied indoors, where the short track makes overtaking a bit more tricky. And it just seemed so right to see a Scottish athlete, Eilidh Doyle, anchor the British woman to a silver medal in the final event of the weekend.
A commendation too for the officials. At this event in Belgrade two years ago the starter had a nightmare with so many false starts, faulty starts, disqualifications, reinstatements and runners running under protest. At the World Indoors in Birmingham last year we had far too many disqualifications for lane infringements – including the farcical race were all runners were disqualified. In Glasgow 2019, the officials got it right. The emphasis was on the athletes not on the officials.
The next European Indoors will be in Torun in Poland in 2021. So, appropriately, tonight’s program included the handing over of the European Athletics flag from Glasgow to the president of European athletics so that he could hand it to the representative of Torun. We are good at ceremony in Britain so the flag was duly carried by a man pretending to be a dog (ie dressed in the mascot’s costume) and presented to the president. The ceremony was spoiled only when the Polish representative was a man in a suit who are clearly not received a memo saying that he was to come in fancy dress.
The crowd’s enjoyment of a magnificent evening was in no way spoiled by seeing the host country collect another six medals, taking them to 12, more than Britain has ever won at the European indoors. Britain topped the medal table in terms of quantity but was second on the official medal table behind Poland who had seven medals but five of them gold, compared to Britain with only four gold out of twelve. That 25 of the 49 nations gained at least one medal was also very satisfactory.