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 !)