In 2006 the Melbourne Commonwealth Games was the year’s highlight as the splendid MCG stadium hosted a spectacular event. And from there, and also at the later summer Gothenburg European Champs, a new generation of British stars emerged destined to be future Olympic & world champions.
The magnificent MCG stadium in athletics mode was quite something: a remarkable counterpoint to the forlorn Helsinki stadium of the previous year – successive Olympic venues in 1952 and 1956, of course, with one that had adapted to be a comfortable modern theatre of sport and one that had not. The cacophony of “Aussie, Aussie, Aussie” in the 80,000 capacity stadium was a bit much at times but with a record medal haul of 41 medals the synergy between fan and athlete clearly worked for the home team: however, the calculating “gamesmanship” that won the AUS Women’s team the 4x400m in getting the ENG team DQ-ed that had crossed the line well ahead was a sporting low point that rankles all these years later! The collective UK teams won 23 medals with 6 golds most notable of which were those of rapidly emerging Christine Ohurugu and more steadily maturing Philips Idowu. Jessica Ennis’s bronze medal was a well-established CG stepping stone to future Heptathlon greatness. Jamaica with 22 medals started its modern run of athletics medal harvesting excellence too. These Games were organised and presented to Olympic standards and T&FT followed the lead with a splendid T&FT Aboriginal Welcome Dinner & Show for clients to set the tone for the event and then we rounded off the Games with a very enjoyable live T&FT BBQ jazz event – both sides of Australia’s ancient and modern culture covered. With wine tours and other exciting excursions, great weather and first class sport it was very much a sports fans dream.
The timing of the Commonwealth Games in March meant that the GB team at the Moscow World Indoor Champs of just 14 athletes was the smallest ever sent – outnumbered by T&FT fans – and, for the first time ever, did not win any medals. The Russian hosts easily dominated the event winning 18 medals with Sweden securing three medals. Moscow was a very chilly destination in complete contrast to Melbourne but as ever the competition warmed the fans over an exciting 3 days.
The Russian team was even more dominant at the Gothenburg European Champs with a record breaking 35 medals as the hosts secured 5 medals with Christian Olsson, Carolina Kluft and Susanna Kallur very well supported home nation winners. The GB team performance was more muted than in recent previous editions with 11 medals but notably this included Mo Farah and Greg Rutherford with silver medals in the 5000m and Long Jump respectively – athletes that had been emerging for a while but yet to fulfil their talent just waiting for their special days to come. The Men’s 4x100m squad won the team’s sole gold medal. Other silver medals were won in the Men’s 4x400m, Women’s 4x100m and also by Nathan Douglas in the Triple Jump. Bronze medals were secured by team stalwarts Marlon Devonish /200m, Andy Turner / 110mH, Rees Williams / 400mH and, to their great delight, in the 800m events by both Rebecca Lyne and Chris Ellis – the highlight of their careers as it turned out.
The third host venue “M” of the year was ticked off the list with the Malaga European Cup event in June providing the ideal excuse to combine this event with a visit to Granada and the Alhambra which was arranged as a pre-tour that was well supported by regular fans. The opportunity to enjoy athletic events with add-on holidays has always been a feature of T&FT arrangements and being the first group to enter the Alhambra early in the morning with the palace and gardens tranquil was a wonderful experience. At the stadium in Malaga a close and exciting Men’s competition saw the GB team eventually finish 3rd but with Christian Malcolm / 200m the only GB event winner. The GB Women’s team struggled and, whilst Jo Pavey / 3000m and Natasha Danvers-Smith / 400mH were victors, the team were once again relegated from the top division.
Over the years hundreds of T&FT clients have attended Diamond League & UKA events and many great performances and records have been witnessed. Not many, we suspect, would have anticipated seeing a 100m world record at Gateshead but on June 11 2006 Asafa Powell powered to 9.77 secs there. Some T&FT clients saw Asafa’s eventual nemesis a then gangly injury prone Usain Bolt – he missed the Melbourne CG event – run 19.88 secs at the Lausanne DL event for his first top 5 world ranking placing him 4th in the end of season 200m best performance lists – 2006 was certainly a significant year for emerging talent!