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EYES WIDE OPEN

Andrew Osagie

8 August 2012

Another day, another medal. After yesterdays minor blip, Team GB got another medal in the athletics from high jumper and part-time underwear model Robbie Grabarz. Robbie’s first time clearance at 2.29m was enough for him to share bronze with three other athletes. It really has been a big turnaround for Robbie. He was a very, very talented junior athlete, but then seemed to stagnate a little bit for a few years. After a very honest and open “discussion” with his coach Fuzz Ahmed at the end of last season, a big change in attitude has paid off. Robbie has been in amazing form all year, clearing 2.36m in New York back in June, so a medal was no less than he deserved. Champion Ukhov from Russia deserves a lot of credit for his victory. He lost his competition vest halfway through the competition, and had to put his spare number of a t-shirt in order to compete. This may have thrown a lesser athlete, but Ukhov followed this incident with a first time clearance at 2.33, followed by first time clearances at 2.36 and 2.38. Calamity seems to follow Ukhov around – you may remember him getting drunk before a competition a few years ago, and then struggling to take off!
 
The evening session also brought success for Andrew Osagie in the men’s 800m. A great run for second place in his semi-final qualified him automatically for the final, which is excellent news. Brendan Foster will no doubt be pleased that Andrew “kept closer order”. I’ve yet to work out what this means, but it is his advice to every single athlete in events of 800m-10,000m who isn’t winning. He may as well just tell them to run faster. Shara Proctor was also in brilliant form, qualifying for the women’s long jump final with a first round jump of 6.83m. Team GB’s other finalist of the day, Lawrence Okoye in the discus, finished 12th with a throw of 61.03m, below his qualifying performance. In the off chance that he actually reads this, I’d like to make it perfectly clear that I am not saying this is a disappointment at all. Please don’t hit me Lawrence. Tiffany Porter missed out on qualification for the 100m hurdles by two places, running 12.79 seconds. Finally, Margaret Adeoye and Abi Oyepitan were both eliminated in the semi-finals of the 200m.
 
The highlight of the morning session for me was the men’s 200m heats. Specifically, I enjoyed Christian Malcolm’s post-race interview. Christian stated that he really doesn’t like the early morning starts and races. I’d like to point out that Christian’s heat took place at 12.06pm. You know life is good if you can class that as an early morning start. Christian did well to qualify second in his heat with 20.59 seconds. There was disappointment for James Ellington as he finished 6th in 21.23, and was knocked out. I know James very well, and he will not be happy with this result. He is a really tough guy though, and will be back stronger in the future.
 
Other good news from the morning session included Julia Bleasdale and Jo Pavey making the 5000m final in a performance that included a PB from Bleasdale and an SB from Pavey. Barbara Parker also ran a PB, but failed to qualify for the final. Lawrence Clarke (13.42) and Andy Turner (also 13.42) both made the semi-finals of a sprint hurdle event that was absolute carnage in the heats. In Andy’s heat alone, there were three DNFs and a DQ!
 
Yesterday we were also reminded of the lows in athletics. Goldie Sayers was really struggling in the javelin, thanks to an elbow injury she sustained at Crystal Palace. You could see how much it was hurting her, as she looked to be having difficulty even holding onto the spear. In the end, she walked through in all three of her throws, and ended up eliminated. It was a similar story for Andrew Pozzi in the 110m hurdles. Again, he injured himself at Crystal Palace, in this case tweaking his hamstring. Andy couldn’t even make it over the first hurdle, as the hamstring was obviously really hindering him. Finally, the worst kept secret in sport, Phillips Idowu’s injury, was too much for him to overcome. He leapt out to 16.53m, and failed to qualify for the triple jump final. All three of these athletes illustrate that high-class athletics operates on a knife-edge. When you are pushing your body to the limit in pursuit of a great performance, you are always at risk of injury. In Goldie’s case, injury struck straight after throwing a British record. With Andy, injury came in the same competition that he ran a PB. I really feel for these three athletes - they certainly gave it their all on the day, but their bodies just let them down.
 
Look out for my former housemate Mervyn Luckwell in the javelin this evening. Please don’t confuse me with him, as his coach did last year at the training centre. I now get called “Merv” on a daily basis at training, which I am less than pleased with. I’ll be going in the 4x400m relay on Thursday instead. True story – I once had a 25 minute conversation with someone about the 4x400m relay leg I ran at the European Cup, as I couldn’t bring myself to tell them I wasn’t Richard Strachan.

Mervyn Luckwell
Richard Strachan