World Champs Final Weekend

It's taken me a week to write this up - sorry! What a weekend though.

On Saturday morning I had training to do so I went down to Mile End Stadium on the tube... not my normal journey to training! Normally in Loughborough I have a ten-minute walk or a five-minute drive from my house to the NPI (National Performance Institute) on the University campus. In London it felt pretty different to be walking first through the glittering Westfield shopping centre then underground onto the tube and finally through Mile End park to the track. Once I arrived and eventually found the right entrance I was greeted really warmly by Alf and I found that I had everything I needed - a sunny track, a session in my head, space and the desire to train. It was really refreshing to see a different side of athletics from the exclusive, elite environment that I'm usually in in Loughborough. There were a whole variety of athletes with different events, ages and abilities but all were welcoming and friendly which was all that mattered really. There were two girls sprint-hurdling and they looked so determined and dedicated to training - I was really impressed! After my track session I headed into the gym which was in a modest space under the stadium seating but amazingly it had every piece of equipment I needed and everything was so well-cared for. I left feeling really inspired and happy that places like that exist! As it was a sunny day I hired a Santander "Boris Bike" and pedalled home through Mile End and Victoria Park. I had no idea that such huge green spaces existed in London but I can imagine how vital they are to the community - I couldn't imagine surviving in a concrete jungle without being able to escape into nature every now and then! The lake at Victoria Park was a scene of perfect summer fun with people sunbathing, eating ice creams and boating on the water. Life felt very good in those moments!

After my training/exploring round trip I dropped into the adidas hospitality area where I was very grateful for some tasty food and a sit down! I enjoyed chatting with the German colleagues and practicing my German speaking - it's a real pet hobby of mine nowadays!  The Olympic Park was packed between the sessions and people filled the banks of the river/canal looking very happy and sociable.

The focus of the Saturday evening session for me was obviously the women's high jump final. With two British women in the field (Morgan Lake and KJT) and the Russian athlete in potentially World-record-breaking form it was set to be a thrilling competition. My parents were in the stadium but I was so full of nerves that I left them to sit right down at the front where I could feel immersed in the action. The British girls gave really strong performances, both clearing 1.95m which is better than British female high jumpers have ever done at the World Champs historically. It was great to see KJT put her demons to bed with the high jump but I know she would rather have done it within the heptathlon! As predicted, Maria Lasitskene won the competition with ease but "only" cleared 2.03m... we were all hoping for a World record of course but watch that space!! Julia Levchenko of Ukraine did really well to jump a PB of 2.01m but sadly nobody was watching as they were fixated on Mo Farah in the 5,000m. If it helps Julia, I was watching and cheering!! I was happy to see Kamila Licwinko of Poland get a medal and she looked to happy with it too - I had a perfect view of the athletes' reactions to their results being on the front row by the coaches. I was stunned when Maria Lasitskene came straight over to me and gave me a hug too - that really made me feel involved in it all!

We saw Sally Pearson storm home for gold and she passed by inches away from us on her victory lap, even pausing to say thanks when I said well done... I'm such a fangirl, unbelievable. It was also great to be able to cheer the decathletes at the end of their gruelling two-days. They're superhumans each and every one of them! Later OBVIOUSLY we had the men's 4x100m where GREAT BRITAIN CAME HOME FOR GOLD!! This was an incredible moment, although admittedly we were confused at first by Usain Bolt's unorthodox journey down the home straight. Once we realised that GB had won, however, everybody was going nuts and later it was really amazing to hear the national anthem played out as our boys stood on the top step of the podium.

 

On Sunday I had more training to do but luckily I didn't have to go far for it - instead doing my circuit on the balcony of the student housing block I was staying in. I got some very funny looks from the students smoking nearby but I got it done! Next it was off to Bloomsbury for lunch with Track and Field Tours - the main travel agency for all things athletics. I always feel so welcome when I go to event like this (also with the British Athletics Supporters' Club) since the people there have a genuine interest in and passion for our sport. It was great to see them all and, being honest, a free hot lunch is always a perk!! Some of the supporters were off to the Mall to watch the race walks after lunch so I tagged along and was rewarded with the chance to cheer on Tom Bosworth and Callum Wilkinson as they raced past in the scorching sunshine next to St James' Park. However there was shock and sadness when it was announced that Tom had been disqualified less than halfway through the race. Seeing him was heart-breaking as he was clearly devastated, though nobody in the crowd could blame him for his mistake and all we felt was compassion towards the distraught figure on the track. Tom is a brilliant personality and is doing wonders for the profile and reputation of British race walking. One result doesn't change all that and I hope he can pick himself up and keep going for a medal at Tokyo and more importantly, being himself!

After the race walks I jumped on another Boris bike and made my way back to Stratford to check out the Hero village before heading into the stadium for the evening's athletics. The Hero village was packed with people and there was a great area where you could try out different activities such as running, jumping and throwing. There were queues of people of all ages and backgrounds dying to give it a go and test themselves.. really good to see.

As the men's HJ drew nearer I realised how nervous I was about the competition and also more than a bit sad that the Championships were nearly over! Again I sat at the front and tryed to immerse myself in the competition, cheering for Robbie and the other guys as they battled it out for medals. Unfortunately it wasn't Robbie's day but at the end of the day 6th in the World is hardly a terrible result in my books! Mutaz Essa-Barshim was on immaculate form and went over the bars with huge clearances all the way up to 2.40m where he bowed out.

We're nearly at the end but I'll just say that I finally managed to get a selfie with the legendary Hero the Hedgehog, officially the World's best Mascot. Our picture together didn't go exactly to my plan, but then again what was I expecting?!

 

I hope you've enjoyed sharing my experience of these great Championships - I've enjoyed writing about them!! Don't forget that in March next year we are hosting the World Indoor Championships in Birmingham so there will be another chance to witness World-Class action in the UK!