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Exhilirating 2009 Ahead

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Usain Bolt Olympics 2008




05 January 2009


Column by Ed Warner as featured in Athletics Weekly magazine




Writing the Official Line column for AW a year ago, I obviously looked forward to the Beijing Games. However, I also highlighted the advantage athletics has over the other Olympic sports in not having to wait four years to have its day in the sun. Well, 2009 will be just such an opportunity for athletics to strengthen its popularity.


The World Championships in Berlin will be the first test of the durability of the huge impact Beijing had on the image of international athletics. It may seem that Usain Bolt single-handedly elevated the profile of our sport, but in fact the Olympics’ success rested on a broad range of exhilarating performances by athletes from across the globe. The IAAF will be praying that this year does not witness the fabled post-Olympic year hangover.


I suspect there is little chance of British athletes easing back in 2009. Partly because a number will feel that they came close to achieving their ambitions last summer but fell frustratingly short, but also because in Charles van Commenee and Peter Eriksson there are new Head Coaches of our Olympic and Paralympic programmes to impress.


Charles and Peter start full-time at UKA at the start of next month. With Kevin Tyler just announced as strategic head of coaching and development , we now have a world-class coaching team in place to ensure that we make the most of the opportunity given to our athletes by lottery funding in the run-up to the London Games.


The indoor season is upon us with the Aviva International Match in Glasgow only four weeks away. The European Indoor Championships are clearly the highlight of this season and expectations for the British team will understandably be high after their success in Birmingham two years ago. After our strong showing in last year’s European Cup, and the record 12 medal haul in the European Cross Country, it would be a great fillip to sustain this recent success in Europe in Turin in March.


Just before the end of last year I visited the site of the Olympic stadium in Stratford. Striking progress has been made in the seven or eight months since construction began. Indeed it’s now possible to stand in a muddy puddle at the start of the 100M straight and look up at the skeleton of the stand behind the first two bends and begin to feel the scale of an event that is still over three years away.


While we’ve no room at all for complacency, I believe we have good reason to believe that our athletes will grace this stadium with excellent performances in 2012, and that 2009 will show that they are on course to do just that.