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Athletics - Many a mickle maks a muckle

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July 31st, 2002


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11:59 pm - Athletics

Tonight at the Commonwealth Games, English athletes won the Women's Triple Jump, the Women's 1500m, the Men's Javelin, the Men's 4x100m, the Men's 1500m and the Men's 4x400m. This is a quite incredible haul. How I wish I had been there.

Watch out for the GBR team in the World Cup later this year, when little Great Britain will take on the USA, Germany and five continental teams over two days of track and field. We will be the team with by far the second smallest catchment area in the contest (smallest being Oceania, and Australia is quite big enough for its boots already, thank you).

Yet we still managed to finish second out of eight in one of the World Cups in the '90s and might well just do as brilliantly again. Certainly there are many events in which we will start as favourite; with England and Wales both running the men's 4x400 in under 3:00.50, a combined GBR team should be able to break three minutes and rock the world.

The audience in the stadium was fantastic, though displaying the lyrics to Land Of Hope And Glory on the scoreboard in the stadium so people could sing along - six times - may have been slight overkill. Listening to the Aussies belt out at least, ooh, a third of Advance Australia Fair when they got up to the rostrum was fair reaction. To be fair, they sang very loudly despite their naturally small numbers, at least as far as they knew the lyrics.

(August 1st break. Rabbits!)

Steve Cram's commentary for the track events was also really impassioned - the man is getting better as a commentator event after event after event, peaking as he tried to shout over the crowds at the exciting photo-finish conclusion of the men's 4x400. I'm a big Cram fan anyway, what with the local connection, but I look forward to his commentary (and accent) on the BBC for the next twenty years. The BBC even had Seb Coe (sorry, Lord Coe of Pretentionshire) doing colour chat in the studio at the end - presumably his Aussie TV paymasters didn't require him for an end-of-athletics wrap-up. After all, we had tanned their Aussie hides with style and aplomb.

Also on the commentary front, John Regis is a spanner. I don't think there's any other way to describe anyone who says things like "England won by a millionth of a second" and "I think they should give the medal to England just because they're the home team". A loveable spanner, and a spanner who actually says what the people at home think, but a spanner all the same.

They also showed Ashia Hansen's winning triple jump again on the evening highlights show - and I'm still convinced that it looks, at the very least, dodgy. No prospect of them showing the take-off-only shot, which is the only one which will be able to convince me.

All told, well done to the Eng-er-land, and here's to the British team in the European Athletics Championship in, ooh, about a week's time. Still four more days of swimming, boxing, cycling, triathlon, bowls and judo to go, though...!

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