*T&FT@30 – Rewind 2009:

“BERLINO” & “BOLT” became the hot “couple” of 2009 – never has a mascot been as popular, as charismatic or come close to matching the star performer of a major sports event as on those heady Berlin days in August 2009 when Usain shared the limelight with a bear!

To have witnessed Usain’s sublime “peak Bolt” performances at the Berlin 2009 World Championships running 9.58 and 19.19 for two individual WRs and then a leg in the 37.31 Jamaica WR run was a privilege. That the venue was where Jesse Owens, back in 1936, won the same three track events at the Olympics (and then for good measure won the Long Jump too) resonated hugely to all athletics aficionados. Different times of course, with no blue synthetic track back in 1936, but the comparisons were clear. That the Berlin stadium was now the home of a cheeky, fun bear mascot compared to the more sinister climate of the 1930s was itself a relief and Usain and Berlino were the perfect double act to celebrate the difference at this historic venue.

To feel the joy and re-live Usain’s magnificent Berlin 200m win and celebrations with Berlino again Click Here: Bolt & Berlino 

As if two stylish “B”s were not enough the great Kenenisa Bekele was another in winning his 4th consecutive 10,000m world title in a CR of 26:36.31. In combination with his Berlin 5000m gold this was, at that time, the first 5K/10Kworld championships distance double – a fine way to end his major championships track career. As a more reserved athlete – unlike his compatriot Haile Gebrselassie – he was not always fully appreciated something which in Berlin Usain Bolt generously went out of his way to recognise when interviewed sharing their joint achievement as double event winners.  The championships were in all respects a great success with 7 CR performances including a fourth WR with Anita Wlodarczyk throwing 77.96 in the Hammer.

For the GB team smiling but steel eyed Jessica Ennis made her exciting breakthrough winning the Heptathlon with 6731 pts and Phillips Idowu won the Triple Jump with 17.73m to add gold to his colourful personality. Both were very well suited to the theatre that the historic stadium had  become under the guidance of showman-in-chief Usain and his cuddly side kick. Had Lisa Dobriskey dipped she would have won a 1500m gold but had to settle for silver by 0.01sec but Jenny Meadows, with her PB in coming 3rd in the 800m, did all she could trailing in the wake of Castor Semenya’s dominance. The GB Men’s 4x400m squad secured silver and the 4x100m team won bronze. As did the GB Women’s 4x400m squad several years later when their 4th place was upgraded to 3rd place following yet another Russian doping DQ.  The GB team finished in 7th place in the points placings table for 1st-8th positions representing a decent result in the ever more competitive world of international athletics.

Mo Farah, his major track triumphs yet to come, ran tentatively in Berlin coming 7th two secs behind the medallists in the 5000m final but he was making progress at European level when he had earlier won the 3000m at the Turin 2009 European Indoor Championships in a CR 7:40.17 and also won the 5000m at the newly formatted Leiria 2009 European Athletics Team Championships in Portugal. Dwain Chambers had won 60m gold in Turin and then completed the 100m / 200m double in Leiria before coming 6th in the Berlin 100m final. In Turin the GB Men & Women both won 4x400m silver medals: the latter notable for being the final major appearance, appropriately rewarded with a medal, for the ever popular Donna Fraser following a 19 year international track career. In Leiria the new combined points team event saw the GB Men & Women’s team come 3rd just behind Russia with the inaugural winners Germany with the GB team providing 8 individual event winners.

Add-on tours were major features of the T&FT arrangements for the 2009 Leiria and Berlin events. For Leiria there was a pre-event visit to the Portuguese capital of Lisbon before travelling to Fatima, a destination of pilgrimage following apparitions of the Virgin Mary in 1917 and located close to the event venue in Leiria. Following the Berlin championships event we had large groups that travelled to Prague, and Prague combined with Vienna and also an extended tour in Germany via Nuremburg, Heidelberg, the Black Forest and then to Zurich. The latter trip took in the Zurich Weltklasse Diamond League meeting at which fans were able to pay homage, once again, to Usain Bolt as he “strolled” to a 100m victory in 9.81 secs. Combined with so many other top class performances at this marvellous event it was the perfect way to end such a memorable summer of athletics.

First class athletics combined with great holidays – a winning combination once again.