Lucky students were given the once in a lifetime opportunity to take part in the first competitive event to be held at the Olympic Stadium in The BUCS Visa Outdoor Athletics Championships.
The event ran from Friday 4th until Monday 7 May with a number of track and field events taking place during the weekend. All events reached capacity with each University allowed to enter one athlete per event and a personal best with a seasons best time were required to be accepted. Over 56,000 tickets were sold across the four days, creating a great atmosphere many students will never forget.
The athletes appeared to strive under the fantastic conditions with a number of BUCS Championship records and personal bests achieved across the weekend. Charlie Purdue, a student at St Mary’s, set a new championship record of 15.15.12 in the 5000 meters. Purdue has already run the ‘B’ standard qualification time in the 10000 meter and is hopeful of making the GB squad in both the long distance events.
Lord Coe, speaking outside the stadium on Saturday, talked about the balance between holding test events while also allowing building work to continue.
“The challenge of course for what we’re doing today and this weekend is running test events. We’ve also got 10,000 contractors out there so we can’t just stop work on the park in order to solely focus on test events.”
“In essence what we’re doing if you think about it in simple terms, the next couple of months are about connecting these venues with the world and to you guys. The last bit will be the landscaping and we’ll probably be mowing the lawns right up to the opening ceremony.”
Coe was also pleased the stadium will retain its athletics facilities after the Olympics.
“I committed to keeping a track and field venue there; we’ve now got that commitment. The Olympic park legacy will decide how and where they put other sports in there. But the very fact we have the 2017 World Championships is a fantastic part of that legacy.”
The event was represented well by the North West with Central Lancashire, Chester, Bolton, Keele, Lancaster, Manchester, Manchester Metropolitan, Liverpool, Liverpool John Moors, Liverpool Hope, Salford and Staffordshire Universities all fielding teams.
The University of Central Lancashire’s club chairmen Ben MacFarlane said: “The event was executed well, with a great sense of excitement among the athletes and spectators. You also got a feeling of what’s to come when the Olympics begin later this year.”
Robert Garth, who achieved a PB representing Liverpool Hope University said: “I’ve been looking forward to the event ever since I heard this year’s BUCS Championships were being held at the Olympic Stadium. It was a fantastic experience and something I’ll never forget.”
Manchester University athlete Kerrie Harris, who took part in the 1500m, said: “I was proud to represent my university and race on a track where in a few months time the world’s best athletes will compete.”
Also during the weekend, the stadium was officially opened on Saturday evening with ‘2,012 hours to go’ until the Championships begin. White balloons were released into the air by a randomly selected youngster with the help of Sebastian Coe and Vernon Kay. The event was a great opportunity for the military to test large-scale security equipment ahead of the Games.
Results from the event can be found here
Lord Coe interview audio:
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