Stuart Weir took the chance of naming his five unmissable events, and we have them below. Stuart makes some fine suggestions, so I will have to respond with mine.
Stuart’s list is quite impressive.
Five unmissable events
Newspapers are struggling to fill the sports pages with no live sport to report. My newspaper is running a series asking all the sports writers to choose their top five most unmissable sports events that they have been privileged to watch. I thought I would play that game too.
Let’s start with the list:
1 Usain Bolt bursting onto the scene to win the 100m in the 2008 Olympics.
2 Super Saturday at the 2012 London Olympics with three British gold medals in 45 minutes.
3 Christine Ohuruogu winning the 400m at the Moscow World Championships by 4/1000s of a second
4 Women’s 800m race at the Herculis in Monaco 2017.
5 Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce winning the 100m at the Doha, 2019 World Championships, the year of the mother.
Now let me explain the reasons for my choices.
Usain Bolt was 21 at the Beijing Olympics. He was principally a 200m runner, having taken bronze at the previous year’s world championship. In May 2008 Bolt had set a world record of 9.72 in what was only his fifth senior 100m race. He was a strong favorite for the 200m in Beijing but what about the 100m? He was clearly fast enough but could such an inexperienced athlete win the Olympic final? He won in 9.69, breaking his own world record. This was his first Olympics – and mine – and he was already a legend. I was privileged to be in the stadium when he won all nine of his Olympic gold medals as well as seeing him in five World Championships. I was once asked to leave a Bolt press conference. But that is another story!
2 Super Saturday
Within 45 minutes on a Saturday evening in August 2012, Jessica Ennis-Hill ran two laps of the track to complete the final event of the heptathlon and to confirm her expected gold medal. 44 minutes after Ennis-Hill, Mo Farah crossed the finish line to win the 10,000m in 27:30.42, less than half a second ahead of Galen Rupp. This was the start of the period of Farah’s dominance but he had been beaten in the World Championship final the previous year, so a home victory was by no means certain. Sandwiched between the two, Greg Rutherford won the long jump. On a windy night, Coach Dan Pfaff told me that Rutherford may not have been the best long jumper in the field but he was the one who worked out how to deal with the wind best. Rutherford also arguably never got the credit he deserved for his achievements. By the summer of 2015 he was the reigning Olympic, World, European and Commonwealth champion.
3 Christine Ohurougu
Ohurougu is the single most successful female British athlete of all time in terms of medals. World champion 2007 and Olympic champion in 2008, she struggled with injuries 2009-2011. Her form was poor coming into the 2012 Olympics but she ran a great race to take silver just 0.15 behind the great Sanya Richards-Ross. What could she do in 2013? She not only won but set a new British record. Ironically Kathy Cook’s record had been set in the year of the 29 year old Ohuruogu’s birth.
4 Monaco 2017
The 2017 Herculis 800m race was arguably the best race I have ever seen. I will describe it in a separate post.
5 Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce
Fraser-Pryce had dominated women’s sprinting for more than 10 years. As a 21 year old she took Olympic gold in Beijing, retained the title in London 2012 and despite an injury which hampered her all season took bronze in Rio 2016. She also won the World Championship 100m three times (2009, 2013, 2015) before missing the 2017 world championship through having a baby. She returned to action in late 2018 and produced awesome form in 2019, running 10.71, within one 100th of a second of her PR in Jamaica. She completed her comeback by winning the World Championship final in Doha, running 10.71 for the second time in the year. She celebrated by carrying her son Zyon, round the track. And yet, again, I was privileged to be there.