The Gateshead Diamond League meeting opened the 2021 DL season. Gateshead’s other star was the wind and the rain. Stuart Weir braved that, sending photos and comments via his phone, as his computer had been pummeled by the forces of Nature.
In the end, a strong opening, with 2000 fans and media in attendance.
We’re not out of the pandemic yet, but some reasonableness is coming to sports.
Gateshead Diamond League
And so the 2021 Diamond League program is up and running, not in Rabat but in Gateshead. You may recall that the meeting scheduled for Rabat was transferred to Gateshead about a month ago when the Moroccan City decided that it could not host it in the pandemic. Gateshead almost hosted a Diamond League last year when the Birmingham event was switched to Gateshead as the Birmingham stadium is being given a makeover. That was then canceled because of the pandemic. But at the second time of asking Gateshead got to host a Diamond League. While it is yet to be confirmed officially, it is almost certain that Gateshead will also host the Anniversary Games in July.
Incidentally, the last time that Gateshead hosted a major international event was the British Grand Prix on July 10, 2010. Tyson Gay won the men’s 100m in 9.94 and Carmelita Jeter the women’s in 10.95 on that occasion.
Gateshead assembled a stellar field for the 2021 event. The pre-event publicity claimed: “Athletes in the line-ups have a combined number of 112 global outdoor world and Olympic medals between them. In addition, they own a whopping 156 European, Commonwealth, world indoor and European indoor medals”. Glad I didn’t have to count them!
There was a women’s 100m with the world leader (Sha’Carri Richardson) going against the reigning 100 (Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce) and 200 (Dina Asher-Smith) world champions. There was Mondo against Sam, a full set of jumps – even a re-instated triple-jump. Races from 100 to 5000 including both hurdles and steeplechase made up a varied 3-hour program. Four para-athletics events were also in the pre Diamond program.
One caveat: if we are going to persist with this silly sixth-round jump-off to decide the winner, then we have got to find a way of expressing the results. This is the official result of the women’s shot.
1. Auriol Dongmo 19.08m
2. Daniel Thomas-Dodd 18.46m
3. Maggie Ewen 18.54m
From last week spectators in the UK have been allowed to attend sports events for the first time in almost a year. 2,000 were allowed to watch the Diamond League – sitting socially distanced. Athletes were accommodated in one wing of their hotel and not allowed to leave it and no visitors were allowed in. The elevators were in the other wing of the hotel; so athletes had to use the stairs. Food was served to athletes at ground level on a plate on a tray which had to be taken to one’s room to be eaten. The bus taking athletes to practice and competition pulled in to within 5 yards of the hotel side door. Officials – like prison wardens – shepherded their captives onto the bus making sure none escaped.
There was nothing normal about the event. At the stadium media sat socially distanced in the stand but with no indoor workroom. And – horror of horrors – no food and drink for media. But we were all thankful to be at an event.
This just looks wrong, that third place threw further than second. Well, yes, Maggie Ewen threw further than Thomas-Dodd but not in the final round so the places were reversed. OK, if you must, but there must be a way to express that which doesn’t look like a misprint.
The only downside was the weather. It was really cold, it was windy up to 4m at times. It rained. The Gateshead International Stadium is open with no roof on three sides. I was in the roofed main stand but the wind blew the rain into it so much that I had to abandon using my computer.