Britain ready for another athletics feast at worlds

LONDON, John Bagratuni (dpa)- Athletics draws some of its biggest crowds in Britain, a long-time key market for the sport. Now the worlds come to the country for the first time, five years after the Olympics, and big crowds and plenty of entertainment are guaranteed.
Athletics leaves behind the many empty seats from the Rio 2016 Olympics and can expect a carnival atmosphere in a packed Olympic stadium in London for the world championships.

Five years after the 2012 Games set a new standard for British and international athletics, the showcase sport returns to London in what will be the farewell event for Jamaican sprint superstar Usain Bolt and British distance running icon Mo Farah.
More than 1 million applications were made in the first sales phase for some 700,000 tickets on offer overall for the August 4-13 event. Organizers last month made an additional 60,000 seats available.
Britain has always been a key market for the sport thanks to a multitude of national heroes including Roger Bannister, the first man to run a sub-4 minute mile, double Olympic champion and long-time 800m world record holder Sebastian Coe, sprinter Linford Christie and and former decathlon great Daley Thompson.
National euphoria reached new heights on the Olympic "Super Saturday" in 2012 when heptathlete Jessica Ennis-Hill, long jumper Greg Rutherford and Farah in the 10,000m took three golds within little over an hour.
Even though that can't be reproduced - with Farah running the 10,000m a day earlier, Ennis-Hill retired and Rutherford missing the worlds for injury reasons - Bolt's likely appearance in the 100m final on the first Saturday should get the crowd going.
The British team, which apart from Farah features the likes of middle distance runner Laura Muir and heptathlete Katarina Johnson-Thompson, is also out to deliver.
“This feels bigger for us than Rio,” British Athletics performance director Neil Black said. “London 2017 is the major global sporting event this year and will be the biggest occasion the country has seen since 2012.
"We’ve selected some incredibly talented athletes ... It’s now up to them to grasp this opportunity and produce performances that will make the whole nation proud."
Coe, the chief organizer of the 2012 Games and now president of the ruling athletics body IAAF, has named the championships "close to my heart" and expects "an incredible event."
He recalled that getting the Olympics, and then keeping the running track in the main stadium although it is now home to Premier League side West Ham United, was imperative to create a lasting legacy.
“Twelve years ago London won the right to host the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. That decision led to the building of the Olympic Park and the stadium and a decision to keep the track after the Games. This in turn meant that London could bid for and host this summer’s championships," he said.
"I see a vibrant community space, the former athletes’ village redeveloped into housing and a series of world-class sporting venues being used by Londoners on a daily basis and hosting international sporting events. This was the dream we all had over a decade ago.”

Friday, July 28th 2017
John Bagratuni

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