London’s Flame Burns On – Sainsburys Anniversary Games 2013


Bethy Woodward - Photography: Dan Mumford
Bethy Woodward – Photography: Dan Mumford

One year ago Britain became united, all under the umbrella of the Olympic Games. For two and a half weeks, the nation were on the edge of their seats, watching and experiencing the emotions of success and defeat on a scale that only the Olympics and Paralympics could have achieved. The games brought an unforgettable spark to the summer, where Britain lived and breathed sport. After last year’s great success we simply couldn’t resist celebrating the birthday of the ‘greatest show on Earth’.

The Sainsbury’s Anniversary Games welcomed back some of the greatest athletes of 2012 for what promised to be a weekend of thrilling track and field action. Kicking things off on Friday 26th July was the ‘battle of Britain’ in the Team GB contested men’s 100m. Adam Gemili sped through to victory, giving us a great new hope for Rio 2016. The theme of showcasing British talent continued throughout the anniversary games with; Perri Shakes-Drayton, Robbie Grabarz and the women’s 4x100m relay all competing. The promising hurdler, Shakes-Drayton unfortunately didn’t manage to secure her 400m event. After starting well, she failed to maintain her pace finishing 4th behind the Czech Republic athlete, Hejnova. Olympic Bronze medallist Grabarz also just missed out on emulating last year’s success, finishing 4th in the men’s high jump. The highlight of the evening was undoubtedly GB’s solid victory in the women’s relay. The team looked in control for the entirety of the race and by the time the baton came to Nelson on the anchor leg, first place was virtually secured. It is of course not just Team GB who drew our attention. Time and time again the sprinting legend Usain Bolt has the world in awe. With “Boltdown” trending on Twitter – all eyes were on the main event, the men’s 100m. From the audacious rocket-driven entrance to his undoubted victory seconds later, Bolt once again had the crowd at his mercy. Despite a ‘horrifying’ start by his standards, Bolt strode home with the fastest time this year. Bolt promised to alleviate the hoodoo put on athletics after notable names, Tyson Gay and Asafa Powell failed drug tests the month prior to the event.

As Saturday arrived, memories of “Super Saturday” involving the tremendous successes of Greg Rutherford, Jessica Ennis-Hill, Mo Farah and Andy Murray that still lived long in the memory. With Ennis-Hill and Farah both taking part, the Saturday of the Anniversary Games looked to be equally as super. The women’s 100m hurdles was the first event of the afternoon; an unfit Ennis-Hill finished in a respectable 4th. Tiffany Porter managed to clinch 2nd place – a strong start for Team GB. The Olympic stadium later welcomed back silver medallist from 2012, Christine Ohuruogu, who ran a brilliant 400m’s maintaining a confident pace throughout, coming through to win in a time of 50 seconds, a season’s best for the athlete. The afternoon was topped off in style by none other than Mo Farah, who stormed to victory in a personal best time in the 3000m. The man seems to be unstoppable at the minute, celebrating with his signature ‘Mobot’. With Mo in the form of his life, we surely can expect to see a lot more of his memorable celebration at the World Championship in Moscow.

On the final day we welcomed back our “super humans” to the London stage. Jonnie Peacock and David Weir were just a few names that buzzed around the stadium after their phenomenal performances last year. In the T43/44 the Brazilian, Oliveira took first place with Peacock just behind, who still achieved his personal best. The ‘Weir Wolf’ performed flawlessly in the mile race, almost breaking the three minute world record. Richard Whitehead’s victory in the T42 200m was the best triumph of the day, after a slow start the 37 year old drove through with ease, to win as he did in 2012.

The big question now is where does British sport go from here? London 2012 has looked to ‘inspire a generation’. The real results of London’s longevity will be seen when the aspiring athletes who have been watching look at the success of the athletes in London to springboard their own success. People inspired? It would seem so, but wait until Rio 2016 and future Olympics to see the evidence. A year on from the Olympics and judging by the heavy nostalgia felt by many and the success of the Anniversary games London 2012 embers still burn brightly!

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