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happy campers - jenny meadows olympic blog

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Sophie Hitchon London 2012

9 August 2012

On day six the action came thick and fast and there were lots of members of Team GB in action yesterday. One of the happiest athletes in the British camp will be Sophie Hitchon. I have followed this athlete for a number of years as she is a fellow northern lass like myself and really does ooze northern grit. She has made the hammer event her own over the past couple of years in Britain and with it has readjusted the British record on multiple occasions. She stepped up to the plate once again today in qualifying, recording yet another British record of 71.98m and earning a place in the Olympic final. A fantastic athletic looking thrower whom I hope like the Olympic motto says can ‘inspire a generation’ to take up this event.

The appearance of the newly crowned Olympic 10,000m Champion, Mo Farah, on the track for the 5,000m heats was amazing to see and even though I was watching it from my hotel room I could still feel the excitement inside the stadium. It is testament to his talent and popularity that a tiny figure of an athlete like him can have such a huge presence in an 80,000 capacity crowd. Mo progressed to the final and the whole nation now would happily be at his beck and call massaging those tired little legs and attending to his every request to help him recover for that final so that he can have another night that the one he had on Saturday.  Although Nick won’t be in that final, he came pretty close to qualifying when he ran his second fastest time ever. I am so glad Nick became an Olympian, as he has never given up on his dream and did himself proud out there.

Another athlete progressing to his respective final was Steve Lewis. He looked calm in qualification and did all that was required of him. I have tipped this guy all season to do something special at these Games and with him scaling new heights recently with a 5.82m British record; I hope he can reproduce this in the final.

Obviously the women’s 800m was of particular interest to me and I had no doubt that Britain’s sole competitor in that event, Lynsey Sharp, would qualify for the semis. She did and with ease it has to be said. I think she looks good for a personal best in those semis tonight.

The only casualty from the morning session was Dan Awde in the decathlon.  After such a good start in the 100m event, Dan had to pull out after the long jump. I am sure he is devastated not to be able to able to finish the event but I am sure he will have enjoyed the rapturous reception that the got from the home crowd. They were all fully behind him and I am sure all shared in his disappointment. 

I was on my best behavior whilst watching the evening session as I was in the studio along with fellow athletes Dean Macey and Ashia Hansen commentating for Al Jazeera television. We could not help ourselves however screaming for the 1500m ladies as they negotiated their way through two tough semi finals. I have been so impressed by all three of our competitors and really think Lisa in particular can be in the running for a medal in the final. Laura must feel like the last four months have all been a dream for her as she has progressed from a previously promising junior athlete to an Olympic finalist. The way she fought all the way to that finish line really showed her passion for this sport and her personal drive. Unfortunately it was not meant to be for Hannah. She suffered the most horrid of spike injuries in her very first race of the season and has done wonders to recover enough to put in some solid performances here. Hannah has proved herself previously as a great athlete and I am so glad she got the opportunity to experience an Olympic Games so that she is ready to challenge for those medals in Rio as we all know she can.

The performances of Lawrence Clarke also tested our professionalism as we all roared with joy when he made it to the Olympic 110mH final with a brilliant personal best.  A couple of hours later he was surpassing our expectations again when finishing in fourth position in the final. Maybe he can rival Sophie Hitchon for the biggest smile on a British face. I do sympathise for Andy T for not being able to produce what we know he can do and for what he knows would have given all competitors in this event a good run for their money if he could have brought his A game to the track.  I am sure we will see Andy return to form in 2013.

It was a similar story for Merv in the javelin qualification. He has been struggling with injury this season and would have stood a great chance of taking a final berth if he could have shown his top form.  The women’s long jump was a hotly contested event as we envisaged it would be and unfortunately Shara couldn’t finish near the top of the standings. 

The great thing about a lot of these competitors for Team GB is that they are so young and so early in their Olympic careers. Whilst some youngsters such as Sophie Hitchon, Laura Weightman and Lawrence Clarke seem to have taken their events by the scruff of their necks and refused to let their tender years go against them, others can use the valuable experience that have gained here to learn lessons for the future.