10 August 2012 - Craig Pickering
So we have our first world record in the athletics at this Olympic Games, with David Rudisha front running his way to victory in a time of 1.40.91 in the men’s 800m. It was an absolutely dominating performance from the Kenyan, and he dragged all the guys behind him to great times. Britain’s Andrew Osagie ran really well, coming eighth in a huge PB of 1:43.77. This makes Andrew the fourth fastest British athlete of all time, showing the rapid progression he has made towards to top of his event in recent years. It must have been a really bittersweet moment for him, running a time like that but finishing so far behind the winner. From his post-race interview, I got the impression he thought 1.44 might have been enough to give him a shot at a medal, and it normally would have been. But with a high quality race like that, he unfortunately missed out.
There was no world record in the 200m, but it was an excellent race. Bolt ran a phenomenal bend, coming out in the lead. Blake was closing him down the home straight, but Bolt did enough to hold him off for the win. This is the first time in history someone has retained the Olympic 200m title; further cementing Bolt’s status as a legend. Bolt’s training partner, Warren Weir, picked up the bronze, completing a clean sweep for their coach Glenn Mills.
Aside from Osagie, there were only two other British performers on Thursday. The first came in the morning session with the men’s 4x400 relay. The team of Nigel Levine, Conrad Williams, Jack Green and Martyn Rooney ran really well, and were just piped on the line as Rooney eased up to qualify in second for the final. Special mention should go to Jack Green, who ran a storming third leg to put GB in control of the race. In the other heat, the US team’s first leg runner broke his leg midway through his run, but still completed it, handing over the baton with his team still in contention. Considering I cried like a girl when I once broke my finger, I am especially impressed by this hardiness.
The final Team GB athlete in action was Lynsey Sharp in the women’s 800m. It was a tough race for her, as the first lap was slow, and then wound up quickly on the last lap. Lynsey finished down in seventh place with a time of 2:01.78, but put in two solid performances in her races her and hasn’t been disgraced at all.
Friday sees Team GB go in the men’s 4x100m relay. Hopefully Danny Talbot will be able to race, and not spend the whole time making sure his check mark is perfectly perpendicular to the lane marker. I’m preparing myself for a lot of abuse on twitter after what happened four years ago in Beijing. So, in my defence, I think I had better do a little bit explaining the relay. The first point I would like to make it that the faster you are running, the harder the relay becomes. This is because you have less time to execute a good changeover. (I add this as people are always telling me that they never dropped the baton at sports day!). Add this to the fact that Team GB will need to have their changeovers occurring at around the 15m mark of each changeover box, there really is only a small margin for error – 5m to be exact. Running at 12m/s, athletes will cover 5m in roughly 0.41 of a second. This is why any mistake is almost always catastrophic. If an athlete leaves 30cm too early, this equates to roughly 2m in the changeover box – leaving only 3m to execute a change. The Jamaican and US teams can afford to be more conservative with their changeovers, as they average about 0.4 seconds quicker per person over each 100m segment.
Having said that, what happened in Beijing four years ago was a huge error on my part. It’s something that I haven’t been able to watch back again, and hopefully the BBC will spare me that on the coverage over the weekend. I often think about how different my life could have been had that not happened - we almost certainly would have got a medal. The point I am trying to get across is – if something goes wrong; don’t be too hard on that person. They haven’t done it deliberately, and they will be hurting deep down inside. Hopefully this little section will also prove to the lovely lady who wrote to me after Beijing explaining exactly how to exchange a baton that I DO know what I’m talking about.