Sainsbury’s Indoor Grand Prix, Saturday 21 February 2015, Birmingham
“Wow that boy can run” said an elderly chap sitting behind me as Mo Farah was racing around the track seemingly racing himself, was the quote of the day as the Barclaycard Arena was the host for the Sainsbury’s Indoor Grand Prix.
As an avid sports follower I had been to a lot of live sports events but I had not been to an Athletics event before and wasn’t sure what to expect when I arrived. On taking my seat I was surprised at how small it all seemed with the long jump, 60m track, pole vault and high jump areas all taking place inside the 200m running track, albeit not all the events going on at the same time.
The first main event up was the Men’s Long Jump which had a strong line-up including the ‘Ginger Wizard’ Olympic Champion Greg Rutherford who was competing in his first indoor event of the year. Greg must have drawn a lot of energy from the near sell-out arena as he jumped 4 indoor PB’s including saving the best till last to jump 8.17m and take the win over the Chinese Xinglong Gao who came 2nd with his unique style of jumping and flapping his arms like he was doing front crawl or trying to fly.
The Pole Vault was a really exciting event to watch with the final two jumpers the World Number 1 and World Number 2 female pole vaulters pushing the bar to a height they hadn’t jumped before with a Greek National Record being broken. It did raise the question though of ‘How does someone get into Pole Vault?’ As a tall and fairly athletic boy at school I would have loved to have had a go but sadly it wasn’t part of a normal PE lesson.
Whilst some of the events didn’t have the cream of the crop in terms of the best athletes in the word in their fields it did provide a great opportunity to watch a lot of top British talent push themselves to qualify for the European Indoor Championships which will take place in Prague later this year.
Keep an eye out in Rio for Katarina Johnson-Thompson as in Birmingham she set a second British Record in a week as she won the long jump with a leap of 6.93m. Only last week Johnson-Thompson broke the British High Jump record with 1.97m jump and also ran a hurdles pb. She is clearly in top form and has high hopes for the year.
The 60m Men’s Final provided a lot of inspiration to any 30+ men thinking their best days are behind them as Kim Collins the 38 year old previous world champion over 100m won the final after losing his last 8 Indoor finals in Birmingham. He is the fastest man in 2015 over 60m and won the final in 6.5 seconds.
Another top performance was from Jenny Meadows winning the 800m with apparent ease and GB’s Chijindu (CJ) Ujah who came second in the Men’s 60m final.
Lastly the crowd filled up once again as Mo Farah came out to warm up for the 2 miles event where he was attempting to get his first world record. There was a pacer running the first few laps at world record pace and at just over halfway the commentator told us Mo was just a couple of seconds behind the world record pace. ‘Come on Mo’ screamed the crowd for the last few laps as he was clearly giving it his all and I had forgotten at this point that there was a race going on as Mo was so far ahead of the others. With ten seconds to go it was going to be tight and Mo flew round the last bend to cross the finish line in eight minutes 3.40 seconds breaking Kenenisa Bekele’s previous record of 8:04.34.
The world record clearly meant a lot to Mo in a week when he has been in the press for different reasons to the usual and whether he used that for inspiration or not i’m not sure, but I can say his run definitely inspired me to get my running trainers out and whilst it was my first Athletics event, it definitely won’t be my last!
Review by @AlexBrown9