Wednesday, 6 August 2014

The Usain Bolt Show

2nd August 2014

Hampden Park, Glasgow

This evening was, of course, NOT The Usain Bolt Show.  There were far too many quality athletes putting in quality performances for that to be the case. 

We saw the Jamaican women stroll to both of the relay titles, and a barnstorming final straight by Matthew Hudson-Smith to win the men’s 400m relay gold for England.  Two Kenyans fought out an equally close finish in the Men’s 1500m, with Scotland’s Chris O’Hare finishing in a none-too-shabby 6th place. 

And, for us folks of certain vintage, one of the performances of the games came along in the Women’s 5000m, as 40 year old Jo Pavey of England refused to be intimidated as she was passed on the last bend by three Kenyans, she fighting back for a wonderful bronze.

My seat in the stadium had found me opposite the women’s pole-vault event, and that the competition took place at all was a major victory for the science of water removal.   As the rain lashed down in sheets we watched a parade of unsuccessful vaults, as over half of the competitors exited the competition, unable to come close to clearing the starting height of 3.80m.   The consequence being that two vaulters (Alysha Newman and Sally Scott) who had creaked over this modest target early in the competition found themselves, almost by default, with bronze medals.

Welsh girl Sally Peake did succeed at clearing not only 4.00m but also 4.15m, and briefly looked as if she may win gold when reigning champion Alana Boyd failed twice at this latter height.  But once the formidable Australian got into her stride, she began bouncing over the bar with metronomic regularity, eventually clearing 4.50 to retain her title.

But had you listened to the media hype, one could be forgiven for thinking all of the events which took place this evening – indeed all of the events across all sports over the previous ten days - were naught but a diverting prelude to the appearance of The Diva.

But to be fair to Bolt he at least, although not fully fit, did choose to show up.  Something Mo Farrah and Katarina Johnson-Thompson failed to do.  Now perhaps both these last-named may in fact be carrying injuries, but it will be interesting to see if either pitches up in Zurich at the European championships in a couple of weeks’ time.

Glasgow Commonwealth Games 2014 - Hampden Park

I am all for folks supporting their country, but this was just a little bit inconsiderate, I felt.
Thankfully the daffodils removed their heads soon after the action commenced.

                            The Women's Pole Vault Final

Welcome to Scotland, Ladies.

Australian Alan Boyd entered the competition rather late at 4.15m,
and endured a couple of rather scary stuck-at-the-top-of-a-pole
moments before achieving the height on her third attempt.

She also had a bit of a strop to herself,
complaining that her marker tape laid
down to pinpoint her jump-off point
had been moved by the wind and rain.

Sally Peake of Wales clears 4.15m to win the silver medal.

Sally Peake of Wales clears 4.15m to win the silver medal.

Sally Peake of Wales clears 4.15m to win the silver medal.

Sally Peake of Wales clears 4.15m to win the silver medal.

Sally Peake of Wales clears 4.15m to win the silver medal.

Sally Peake of Wales clears 4.15m to win the silver medal.

Sally Peake of Wales clears 4.15m to win the silver medal.

                                        Women's 5,000m Final

The Women's 5000m field.

Final of the Women's 5,000m - 2014 Commonwealth Games

Elinor Kirk of Wales finished in 12th position

Final of the Women's 5,000m - 2014 Commonwealth Games

Margaret Muriuki leads the race at this point, although she would be the Kenyan to miss out on a medal.

Scotland's Beth Potter (centre) finished in 9th place.

With around 200m to go eventual winner Mercy Chirono overtakes Jo Pavey.

                                                      Men's 1500m Final

1st - James Kiplagat Magut (Kenya)
2nd - Ronald Kwemoi (Kenya)
3rd - Nick Willis (New Zealand)
Scotland's Chris O'Hare finished in sixth position.

                                     Men's 4x400m Relay Final

This was the point at which England's Matthew Hudson-Smith overtook
Zwede Hewitt of Trinidad and Tobago on the final back stretch.  

Matthew Hudson-Smith crosses the finishing line just ahead of Chris Brown of The Bahamas.

Men's 4x400m Relay Medal Ceremony.

                                           Men's Triple Jump Final

This was India's Arpinder Singh in the Triple Jump event.
Singh won the bronze medal.

                                                     Women's 4x100m Final

Crystal Emmanuel of Canada

The all rather busy first baton handover.

Shelly-Anne Fraser-Pryce finished the final leg of the Women's 4x100 Relay final well over a second ahead of silver medallists Nigeria.

Nigeria and England finished 2nd and 3rd respectively.

                                                            Men's 4x100m Final

Adam Gemili led off for England.....

.....whilst Ejo Oduduru did for Nigeria

Left to Right
Simon Magakwe & Henricho Bruintjies (both South Africa),  Aaron Brown (Canada),
Kemar Bailey-Cole (Jamaica).

Men's 4x100m Relay Final - 2012 Commonwealth Games

Usain Bolt, Danny Talbot, Richard Thompson

Men's 4x100m Relay Final - 2012 Commonwealth Games

Mr Bolt

Lightning Bolt

Hampden Park - Glasgow Commonwealth Games 2014

So, although there were a few more medals to be won on the Sunday, this was my final event of the games.  I had attended Cycling (both Track and Road), Swimming, Athletics, Badminton, Hockey and Rugby Sevens, and had been fortunate enough to witness performances I will remember all my life: Eilidh Child, David Weir, Hannah Miley, Ross Murdoch, Blessing Okagbare and indeed that of Jo Pavey this evening.

And what I will take from these games was the heart-warming sight of a Hampden Park full of Scots cheering a 40-year old English housewife to an unlikely medal.  And the support given to all of the home nations athletes, yes even the English ones, perhaps making many of us realise that perhaps we are not quite so different from our peculiar southern neighbours as we may sometimes think. 

And I leave you with the thought: Have these Commonwealth Games, rather than boosted the Independence cause, as Wee Eck probably hoped, actually sounded the death-knell for the Yes campaign in next month’s Scottish Independence Referendum?

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