*T&FT@30 – Rewind 2018

T&FT@30 – Rewind 2018:

The three major events of 2018 held in Birmingham, Gold Coast and Berlin all shone as brightly as the three gold medals and records of Dina Asher Smith who stole the British athletics headlines in what was a successful season for so many British athletes.

The Birmingham World Indoors and Gold Coast Commonwealth Games provided a late winter / early spring dilemma for many athletes with the weather between the two events as contrasting as imaginable. Birmingham hosted the World Indoors for the second time in Arctic conditions and the GB team, whilst not at full strength, won 7 medals. Andrew Pozzi, 60mH & Katerina Johnson-Thompson, Pentathlon were both gold medallists. Laura Muir with 1500m silver & 3000m bronze again proved her indoor pedigree but only made the event by emergency taxi to escape snowbound Scotland: unlike so many fans from around the UK or overseas that were unable to make it to Birmingham due to the severe weather. Bronze medals were won by Eilidh Doyle, 400m and Shelayna Oskan-Clarke, 800m & GB Women’s 4x400m team. The weather provided challenges to everyone and on the track very stringent video officiating led to a record number of DQ runners for running on or over the lane lines including an entire heat of male 400m runners and the 400m final “winner” Oscar Husillos whose 44.92 CR and gold did not stand. Six other records did stand: Christian Coleman’s CR 6.37 60m, Kendra Harrison’s CR 7.70 60mH, POL Men’s CR & WR 4x400m 3:01.77, USA Women’s CR 4x400m 3:23.85, Tomas Walsh’s CR 22.31m shot and Sandi Morris’s CR 4.95m pole vault. During the winter there were GB NRs for Tom Bosworth 3Km Walk 10:30.28, Bethan Davies 5Km Walk 21:25.37 & Tim Duckworth Heptathlon 6188 pts.

Four weeks later at the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games idyllic Aussie late summer sun provided the ideal conditions as 12 CRS were set and the four UK nations won 19 medals behind Jamaica’s 24 and Australia’s 21 medals. KJT’s Heptathlon victory was the only UK athlete to secure a Birmingham / Gold Coast double with other golds from Nick Miller CR / NR 80.26m hammer and the England Men & Women’s 4x100m teams.  Tom Bosworth’s NR 1:19.38 20Km Walk won him silver and Birmingham medallist Eilidh Doyle won silver for Scotland. Like Tom Bosworth Bethan Davies of Wales indoor NR form translated into a Commonwealth bronze medal. Dina Asher Smith’s 200m bronze in a truly world class field showed her winter training had gone well and another Commonwealth Heptathlon bronze – a rite of passage for the UK greats – was won by Niamh Emerson hinted at a promising future. Of the dozen Games records those of Caster Semenya’s CR 1:56.68 800 & CR 4:00.71 1500m double and Joshua Cheptegei CR 27:19.62 10000m were the most notable.

As at Birmingham where T&FT had 300+ fans the group in Australia of 125+ fans kept us busy as clients booked interesting add-on tours and local sightseeing options too. The T&FT Gold Coast Party in the Crown Plaza revolving restaurant with fabulous food and stunning coastal views will live long in the memory: 4 weeks earlier the T&FT Birmingham Sunday Roast Lunch had overlooked the frozen Birmingham canals! Great company, first class food and memorable venues always deliver as they did in the summer with the T&FT Berlin T&FT Party taking over the revolving restaurant of the iconic Berlin TV tower overlooking the whole city.

Berlin is a fascinating city and for athletics fans the iconic 1936 Olympic stadium is almost a metaphor for its intriguing 20th century history.  The stadium, a prime example of brutalist Nazi architecture, saw Jesse Owens defy the hosts’ prejudice in 1936 and in 2009 saw Usain Bolt in his pomp but it seems the fabric of the building had always had other ideas as it was from the very start a theatre for celebrating the different talents and sportsmanship of people from everywhere. In 2018 among the new stars were Dina Asher Smith with her 100m / 200m NRs 10.85 & 21.89 golds, Jakob Ingebrightsen’s remarkable 1500m / 5000m double and Armand Duplantis’s CR and WJR 6.05m pole vault victory: another generation in the historic venue were making their mark.

Dina was also part of the GB Women’s 4x100m gold medal team. The GB Men’s 4x100m squad also won gold which with Zharnel Hughes CR 9.95 100 win and Reece Prescoed’s 100m 9.96 silver was not surprising. Netheneel Mitchell-Blake’s 200m silver and sprint relay gold meant he was also a double medallist as was Matt Hudson-Smith with his 400m gold and GB Men’s 4x400m silver. Away from the sprints Laura Muir’s 1500m gold showed her European dominance with the depth of the GB women middle distance squad confirmed by Eilish McColgan’s 5000m silver, Adele Tracey’s 800m & Laura Weightman’s 1500m bronzes. Laura W, in the 5000m, had won a Gold Coast bronze medal as had Jake Whiteman in both Australia and Berlin with 1500m third places. Katerina Johnson-Thompson had a very good battle with Thiam in the Heptathlon in winning silver to conclude a season of great achievement and consistency. Bronze medals were won by the GB Women’s 4x400m team, Meghan Beesley, 400mH, Holly Bradshaw, pole vault and Shara Proctor, long jump – for Shara a repeat of her Gold Coast placing. There were 10 CRs in total and the stadium erupted with German Christin Hussong’s 67.90m javelin win and with so many Polish fans in the stadium Anita Wlodarczyk’s 78.94m winning performance received quite a roar too. The GB team with 19 medals headed the medal table.

The post Berlin T&FT Add-on tour to Poland, Slovakia and Vienna was both interesting and challenging as central European 1930s history also accompanied us along the way with Auschwitz and Krakow part of the schedule: a good trip shared with friends.