Commonwealth Games: Grit and Glory - Women's running

Grit and glory

Author: Chris Macdonald

Read Time:   |  October 8, 2014

Commonwealth Games grit and glory

Women’s Running Consultant Editor Tina Chantrey treated herself to a trip to Glasgow for the Games

 

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Walking up into the stand two nights ago at Hampden Park, the home of athletics at this year’s Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, I felt a surge of excitement. It was better than any birthday or Christmas; in fact it was like being a child, when you are given that one thing that you have been yearning to have for so long. Life felt perfect!

I think it was my younger self that resurfaced as I saw the athletics track before me, and a night of uninterrupted live athletics. As a teenager, when athletics was everything to me, I occasionally took the coach up to Crystal Palace in London with my athletics club. The occasion: the Coca-Cola meets (which would evolve into the Diamond League events held throughout Europe today), where thousands of aspiring athletes clung to the edges of their seats cheering on their heroes and heroines, dreaming of emulating their success one day.

For me, it was Daley Thompson who I followed and admired; there is nothing as impressive as an athlete who can master ten different events, and excel to national standard in a few of them. Daley was an icon of British athletics and an inspiration to a whole generation.

Hampden Park was alive with energy and the voices of 50,000 people as we all waited for the first event. Luck would have it that it was the javelin event in the decathlon, and our seats were just about as close as you could get to the action.

Every athlete, male or female, who competes at national or international level, has dedicated their lives to their sport and worked hard, relentlessly, in pursuit of excellence. As the javelins were thrown up towards the skyline, and many of the decathletes set lifetime or season’s bests, the crowd roared in acknowledgement of their achievements. The noise was deafening. My whole body was tingling with excitement and awe.

The night gradually unfolded, and during each event we were witness to a series of gutsy and determined women from the home nations that left me feeling proud to be British.

Kate Avery from England and Beth Potter from Scotland took on the mighty power of the Kenyan women in the 10,000m final and proved that they have the strength to compete with the Africans, finishing fourth and fifth. Laura Weightman went one step further in 1500m final, securing Silver. No doubt Laura Muir from Scotland would have also played a part in this if she hadn’t lost her footing coming into the finishing strait. Laura Samuel also jumped a lifetime best of 14:09 in the triple jump to take silver.

These women dug deep and fought for their positions. If our children, or the female athletes of the future need inspiration to work hard to achieve their goals and dreams, it was in abundance in Glasgow last night.

There was a Reggae theme to the night, as the Jamaican flag, and national anthem, took centre stage again and again during the medal ceremonies; One Love rang out in recognition of the Jamaican dominance on the track in these games. If anything can unite people from different cultures and nations it is their love of sport, and at Hampden Park love was most definitely in the air last night.

And the decathletes? During their last event of the games, the 1500m, all the competitors (many of them battling with the distance that is not kind to their tall, muscular physiques) pushed themselves to their own limits. I may have missed Daley Thompson by about 20 years, but I managed to push my way to the edge of the track and get some photos with Ashley Bryant, who finished second for England, and Ben Gregory from Wales.

I was so inspired by the British women I watched, but I couldn’t stop smiling after talking to the decathletes. That smile went so deep I think it may have just touched the 14-year-old me. I am, I believe, a much better person for being able to touch their lives on this occasion, if only for a couple of seconds!

 

 

Chris Macdonald

Editor-at-Large, Women's Running

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