6th August 2012
CRAIG PICKERING EXCLUSIVE OlympicBLOG
6 August 2012
Bolt. Did you ever doubt him? I did. It looked to me that he had lost his spark this year. He looked very ordinary in getting beaten by Blake at the Jamaican trials. Then he came out in an interview on the eve of the Games saying that he was “about 95% fit.” That set the alarm bells off for me. But then after his semi-final display, my hopes were raised – he looked almost back to his best. Gatlin looked phenomenal too. Come the final though, it was only ever Bolt who was going to win. His winning margin of 0.12 seconds only illustrates his dominance. Tyson Gay appears to have handed Gatlin a medal in the final by not dipping at all, ultimately missing out by 0.01 seconds. Asafa Powell’s new ginger beard didn’t bring him luck, as he pulled up, finishing last in 11.99 seconds. The British athletes raced well in the semi-finals too, Gemili coming 3rd in 10.06, Chambers 4th in 10.05, and Dasaolu 7th in 10.18..
Christine Ohuruogu continued her unbelievable streak of saving her best for major championships finals. Christine has only run under 50-seconds three times in her career; when winning the 2007 World Championships, the 2008 Olympics, and last night, winning an excellent silver medal. I have so much respect for an athlete who gets the best out of herself when it matters, especially when you consider that things haven’t gone to plan in the last three years.
Again, Team GB had a mixed night in the rest of the events. Conrad Williams, Nigel Levine and Martyn Rooney all missed out on the 400m final, but generally acquitted themselves well. Eilidh Child and Perri Shakes-Drayton both made the 400m hurdles semi-finals with 56.14 and 54.62 respectively. PSD was especially impressive in beating reigning Olympic champion Melaine Walker in her heat. Like Adam Gemili, Ross Murray has only recently started to focus on athletics after a couple of years in the wilderness Unfortunately Rosco couldn’t make it through in the 1500m, but he gained extra lad points by being especially cool. Rocket-scientist Andy Baddeley also missed out the 1500m final. Yamile Aldama finished 5th in the final of the triple jump with a jump of 14.48m. Alex Smith finished 12th in the final of hammer, but did really well to make the final in the first place. In the marathon, Freya Murray finished 44th, and Claire Hallissey finished 57th. Mara Yamauchi succumbed to a heel injury early on, and had to drop out. Finally, full-time cover model and part-time athlete Robbie Grabarz qualified for the final of the high jump with a leap of 2.29m.
One of the biggest events from a British point of view on Monday will be the men’s 400m hurdles. Last year in Daegu, Dai Greene won the World Championships in the slowest winning time in history (approximately 5.4 seconds after the race had finished, I had sent a text to Dai informing him of this.) This year in London, Dai has a chance to make history again. Although Dai will tell you he is 26-years-old, with just a cursory glance at that receding hairline it becomes painfully obvious that Dai is well over 38 years of age. If he wins today, he will therefore become the oldest winner of the 400m hurdles in Olympic history.
On a more serious note, Dai deserves all the success he has got. I’ve had the pleasure of training with him for 18 months, and rooming with him on multiple trips. I have never come across someone who understands his body so well. Dai instinctively knows when he has to back off training a bit, or miss a day. He also knows when he can push it, and when he does the training results are stunning. He is also someone who I have never, ever seen stressed. The pressure never seems to get to him, and because I know this, I usually spend all race day winding him up. Success also hasn’t changed Dai. I used to have to drive Dai to training, as he hadn’t passed his driving test, and his 50cc scooter and broken down and he couldn’t fix it. Now he is world champion, and although he has clearly had his teeth done (he refuses to admit this to me), he is still the same down to earth guy – which is probably why he is Olympic team captain. He survived a scare to make the final, but he has nothing to lose now. Dai certainly will push himself to the limit in pursuit of a medal.
Finally, I get quite a few people asking me what the pre-race process is like at an Olympic Games. Whilst I can’t comment specifically on the process in London (for obvious reasons, as I am 200 miles away sat on my sofa, wallowing in self-pity), I have been to a few major championships, so I have a reasonably good idea. Let’s assume I am running a heat at 10.30am. Before a race, you have to go to a call room, where your kit is checked, and you are led into the stadium. Call up times vary competition to competition, but at the Olympics the time tends to be 45 minutes for track events (and up to 90 minutes for pole vault!). So I know I need to be in final call for 9.45am. My warm up takes about an hour, so I know I need to start that by 8.45am. Before my warm-up, I generally spend about an hour relaxing at the track and seeing the physio, so I know I need to arrive at the track by 7.45am. This means I will probably have to leave my accommodation at 7.15am. To allow for breakfast, getting showered and getting everything else ready, I probably need to get up at 6am. So next time you see people competing at the Olympics, be aware that the preparation has probably started a good 5 hours before. And spare a thought for those in early morning heats!
Something for you to look forwards to tomorrow – six things you didn’t know about 110m hurdler Lawrence Clarke. If you have anything you would like to see in this blog, let me know on twitter – @craig100m.
PS – did you see Ashley Cole in the 400m hurdles heats?