Olympic Park Report

It was a fitting end to O Park.

The PA didn’t work a couple of times, I couldn’t read my program in the grandstand because the overhead lights above me were broken and it was a disappointingly low crowd.  The athletics was good for most of the night, but built to outstanding quality over the final few events.

The finale, the men’s 5000 metres, was a fitting farewell to years of athletic excellence, with the fastest 5000 metres ever run in Australia.  Dual world champion Lagat needed the extra gear he has to withstand a strong challenge from the vastly improved Aussie Ben St Lawrence, who recorded an A-qualifier for the world champs in August.  Buster Mottram made a sterling comeback with a faster than expected 13.25, quicker than he ran in the dawdling heat he was eliminated from in Beijing and it was great to see him back.

Melbourne’s Jeff Riseley was the other star of the night, beating the overseas stars in the 1500 metres.  With Ryan Gregson (who didn’t run last night), we have two legitimate international quality contenders in this event for the first time in the last 45 years.  David Rudisha showed why he is the world’s best in the 800 metres, 17 year-old Steve Solomons stamped himself as a star of the future in winning the 400 metres, and Sally Pearson , Mitchell Watt and Dani Samuels were streets ahead of their opposition.

As I left, I smiled warmly as I saw people queueing up to get out the old rotating, one at a time turnstile.  I am going to miss you O Park ! (but might see you for the nationals in April !)

Comments

  1. Paul Daffey says:

    Steve,

    I too went last night and enjoyed it. Having come from the Docklands, where a typical gale produced freezing conditions, I was surprised how mild it was at Olympic Park. I don’t think the runners had too much to complain about with the conditions, especially as it gets fairly cold in Europe on the shoulders of summer and that’s what they’ll be running in.

    My performance of the night was Steve Solomon. It was a case of a 17-year-old having no fear. He didn’t know he was supposed to bow to those with greater reputations.

    Steve Offereins looked to have the race shot at 200 metres. Then Sean Wroe came at him. Then Solomon dragged them both in with 10 metres to go. It was a superb win, one I’ll remember for a long time.

    My other highlight was David Rushida’s running action. Tall and languid, I could watch him all day – or at least for a few 800 metre races. Seeing the Kenyans in action is always a highlight.

    My own memories of OP are tied up with the annual Associated Catholic Schools carnival and interclub meets. The grandstand was choco-bloc during the school carnival. I found getting down on the blocks at the top of the straight to be a nerve-racking experience.

    I liked the pace of Saturday-afternoon interclub meets. A bit of a 200 followed by a bit of a high jump followed by a bit of an 800 then a bit of a relay at the end. Looking back, I didn’t push myself enough. I just liked bounding up and down on that bouncy red track.

    I’ll miss the old track. Last night I couldn’t help but think of Eddie McGuire’s curious decision to go on to the board of Athletics Australia. Then lo and behold it’s announced that athletics is moving to Albert Park, leaving Olympic Park free for other interests. That’s the Olymmic Park that is next to the Lexus Centre.

    Steve, you follow Collingwood. It’s your fault that Olympic Park is being wound up.

  2. Alovesupreme says:

    Steve,
    I also went, largely inspired by your earlier spruik for the event.
    I agree with Daff about Solomon, he sprang from nowhere. It’s good to see him making the point that this year he’s concentrating on school, so it woulod appear that he is level-headed, for all his rich atletic potential.
    Have Almanackers been following the debate in the UK about the use to which the London main stadium is to put after the Olympics? West Ham beat Tottenham Hotspur with a winner deep into extra time; that means the athletics track will be preserved into the near future, as Spurs wanted to pull it up, and finance a new stadium elsewhere. This of course raise that vexed issue of spectators’ proximity to the game – a perennial issue within the soccer community.

  3. Steve Fahey says:

    Enjoyed your input, Daff and “Love”

    While I won’t take personal responsibility for O Park being wound up, with the objectivity and fairness typical of passionate Pies, I will say that I thought it was a poor decision made from a conflict-ridden process. I am also aware that a lot of aths people think that they will end up with a better, more athletics-oriented facility at Middle Park. I’m just not sure why you would willingly move out of the sporting precinct if you want to promote access to your sport, although the aths people will point to the other premier Olympic sport, swimming, being closeby their new stadium. I would have preferred they stay closer to the home of that other great Olympic sport, tennis !!!!!!!!!!

    As a passionate Spurs supporter, I guess that West Ham’s late winner means that I am at 1-1 after the Pies’ snatching O Park. Come on you Spurs !!

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