If you didn’t hear, this weekend was The British Indoor Athletics Championships, it was being held just down the road from us at the “Arena Birmingham” and my wife and I were lucky enough to have to have tickets!
We have regularly attended this event over the last ten years and with the IAAF World Indoor Athletics Championships taking place in our home city, at this very venue in just two weeks, we were very excited at the prospect of seeing some British talent qualify, before our very eyes!
It turns out the event and venue was a bit of a mixed bag and that had nothing to do with the athletes themselves (they were ace).
The city is being revamped, it’s becoming a real hive of rejuvenated activity with HS2 on the horizon, key business links and not to mention the impending 2022 Commonwealth Games. This leads to my first question why was there only one banner for the event visible on my journey to the arena?
Not an iota that this Major British event was happening on our doorstep!
We arrive outside and it was VERY underwhelming, it used to be a bit of a carnival atmosphere but there was a 2 metre pop-up banner and 2 flags that identified that this event was happening, that’s it. We queued with twenty other people to get in, hoping this was a sign of a packed event, only to discover around 75% of the seats empty...
Thankfully over the course of the next hour this did increase to around a third of the arena filling up but why are we charging premium prices for tickets, when clearly no one is turning up? Let’s fill these stadiums and given the athletes some support, an event they have worked towards!
As for the crowd, I simply don’t understand what was happening. Birmingham has become known on the circuit for the intelligent and supportive fans but in the words of the compare, the arena sounded like a library!
For the majority of the 7 hours I was the single person clapping, I’m not joking, like the only clap echoing a mostly empty arena. It was embarrassing but I refuse to not support those athletes who go through the wars to reach an elite level!
Anyway, there were some great performances to note. This was probably led by Megan Marrs who lowered her PB to 8.16 in the 60 hurdles, from 8.6 seconds! Unbelievable isn’t it?!
It was great to see Andrew Osagie appearing at the top level again and Elidh Doyle and Laura Muir commaning their entire respective lineups. There were dominating sprint performances from CJ Ujah, Asha Philip, Darryl Neita and Bianca Williams plus strong season starts from Greg Rutherford, Katarina Johnson-Thompson, Jazmin Sawyers and Morgan Lake.
The highlight of the entire event however was one man who is clearly determined to give back to the sport and the people who supported him throughout London 2012, Greg Rutherford. He was approachable on track and after he came off the track he proceeded to speak and thank every single fan who lined up the walkway. This enevitably became a selfie and autograph with what was very conceivably every child in the arena. Over an hour later he finishes but his smile was still the same and every single child got a personal conversation with the legendary Gold Medal winning Olympic Champion.
I am very concerned about the future of British Athletics if we can’t publicise our events and get supporters down to stadiums but this man might just be able to...Inspire A Generation and save athletics in our country at the same time!
Do your bit, make sure you check online for tickets to these events with around 5 major events taking place in just Birmingham and London alone this year. Your children will be amazed by the athletes and intrigued by th events, just enough to get involved in athletics themselves, no doubt!
Remember, if you live in South Birmingham or near Solihull and your child wants to get involved in Athletics make sure you check out the Trackside Athletics Academy where our successful coaching structure has developed athletes for over a decade! We even have a few spaces remaining on our Wednesday 10-13 years group, so why not start now!
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