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An Exhilarating few weeks ahead

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11 August 2008


Column by Ed Warner as featured in Athletics Weekly magazine


So (at long last) let the Games begin! A week of warm up for athletics fans, with a host of other sports, and then a Chinese banquet of track and field as the main course. The uncertainty at this point about what’s to come is one of the great joys of sport. You can be sure, though, that it will be memorable.


While in Beijing I will be taking in a number of sports other than athletics, but my hopes for the Games are obviously topped by the selfish one that Britain’s athletics team is successful. Individually, what would constitute success differs from athlete to athlete. But collectively, I’m convinced we have a well prepared, competitive team with the potential to spring a surprise or two, alongside the more established names who have medal expectations on their shoulders.


It is clear that China will put on a great show. I’m no great fan of opening and closing ceremonies, but these will doubtless be lavish bookends to a grand, well organised Games in stunning venues. It may be in these more straightened, environmentally conscious days that these will appear out of step with the times. If so, that will hardly be a first for China.


London 2012 is sending a large delegation of observers to Beijing. With an Olympic Stadium in Stratford that will shrink in size after the 2012 Games, London’s organisers are already positioning their event as a break from the increasingly grandiloquent Games of the recent past. Maybe, secretly, they simply realise that the scale of China’s commitment means that few future host cities will ever be able to compete on this scale.


One or two people have carped at the number of the BBC’s staff that are going to Beijing. Whatever I might think of that as a licence fee owner, as Chairman of UKA I’m delighted. Our sport thrives on its status at the heart of the Olympics and the exposure it receives every four years is vital oxygen that helps sustain us during the intervening years.


Blanket coverage on a full suite of digital broadcasting platforms poses its own challenge to our media team – in old journalistic parlance, there’s a lot of column inches that need to be filled. However, that’s a great problem to have. And wouldn’t it be good to be able to meet that demand with stories of new British athletics stars.


However you’ve chosen to follow the action, whether live in Beijing, through the BBC’s coverage, or via the press, I hope you have an exhilarating few weeks.