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Glasgow International Match Preview

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Craig Pickering

Column as seen in Athletics Weekly magazine by Ian Hodge 

29th January 2009

The first UKA Major Event  fixture of the year, the Aviva international Match at Glasgow on 31 January offers a great opportunity for spectators and TV viewers alike to start the year off on a patriotic footing. There is no doubt that any chance to promote “Team GB” is a winning formula as spectators need little encouragement to support the National side – and the match format enables them to do just that. 

The meeting is the first competitive opportunity for athletes whose short term target is this season’s European Indoor championship and with the indoor calendar only six weeks long, it is vital we open with high quality competition. Not every athlete competes indoors, but it is never difficult to field a strong British team for this event. 

Glasgow brings the first chance for our athletes to put their tough winter training into action and to guarantee top quality competition for GB athletes and our fans, we ensure each international team is a mixture of the world’s best along with rising stars.  

Matches can be so exciting to watch if they are close and we make no secret of the fact that that is something we strive for and yet the “form book” is not always reliable at the beginning of the year. In 2008 Britain suffered disqualifications in two events and were in third place going into the final event - yet victory for Craig Pickering made it a home win by just one point which is as good as it gets for the spectator and you could see exactly what it meant to the GB team when they collected the trophy.  

In recent years one of the teams in the match has been a composite affair in which British athletes could also compete in as we recognise the need to give a competition opportunity to as many Britons as is appropriate without the concept of the match being compromised. This can sometimes give rise to the British selection losing to another British athlete but isn’t that all part of competitive sport? 

Although scheduled early in the season the match has produced some memorable moments over the years, possibly none better than in 1994 when Colin Jackson equalled the World 60m hurdles record and although that is the pinnacle the meeting always provides a foretaste of who to watch out for as the year progresses. This was amply demonstrated in 2008 when two of the seven British winners were Jeanette Kwakye and Lisa Dobriskey. 

Whilst International matches are a rarity in the twenty first century, what has endured is the keenness of the Kelvin Hall in Glasgow to host them. Within weeks of the track being opened in 1988 they staged a GB against France fixture and twenty one years later they are still doing the honours spurred on no doubt by the rampant local crowd support.