Thanks for the memories, Daegu
The 2011 World Championships have come to an end. For a track & field geek like myself, this meet is pretty much Christmas everyday for a week. I am in heaven when I am attending the World Championships. For this year’s World Championships to end with a world record was icing on the cake.
The meet itself is spread out into morning and evening sessions. Heats and qualifying rounds are run in the mornings, with semi-finals and finals in the evenings. The schedule is timed perfectly. In less than a three hour period in the evening there will be eight to ten events plus medal ceremonies. The events are spaced so perfectly that you can watch pretty much all the action on the track and in the field events. With the jumbotron screens, Seiko scoreboards on the field, and expert announcing, spectators are kept abreast of all the action as it happens. The events are timed in such a way that there is never anything happening on the track when the final attempts are made by the medal winners in the jumps and throws. That way all the attention is focused on the often overlooked field event athletes. David Storl of Germany used this attention from the fans to his advantage, throwing 21.78 meters on his last throw in the shot put to move from the silver medal to the gold medal.
I am also particularly fortunate that my wife, Malinda Walker (a.k.a. The Track Widow) is willing to foresake typical vacations to travel across the world so I can watch track & field. Our experience at these meets is enhanced thanks to the kindness of Shannon Rowbury, who does all that she can to get us access to things like the Nike hospitality area and athlete’s village. It was quite an honor to time some of her 200’s on the practice track one day during our trip.
This year’s meet in Daegu was particularly interesting because of the great seats that we had. The price of the ticket was 112,500 Won, which is in the ballpark of $112 (USD). They weren’t cheap but they were quite reasonable for where they were located. We were in the section just adjacent to the press area, right on the finish line. I had a better seat for World Championships than I did for the California High School State Meet.
From our vantage point, I was able to get to Shannon to give her a hug after her semi-final race. We could also see the look of pure joy on Jenny Barringer Simpson’s face when she realized that she had won the 1500. We were just yards away from Vin Lannana as he reached over a railing to congratulate Matt Centrowitz on his bronze medal. After the 200 and 4X100 relay, hundreds of fans crowded the press area hoping to get a picture or autograph of The Man, Usain Bolt. I was one of those hundred. Malinda and I proudly waved our American flag throughout the meet and I swear if we had been in row five instead of row 10, Bernard Lagat would have taken our US flag to use for his victory lap (he looked up at us and I could tell he was trying to decide if we were close enough for him to get our US flag).
In addition to the best seats I may ever have for an international championship meet, our tickets came with dinner in the Premiere Lounge every night before the meet. The same menu got a little tiresome but how could I turn down free kimchi and beer?
Sadly this year’s meet is now over and it’s time to head home. I’ll post a blog or two about the meet when I get home before I turn my attention to London 2012 and Moscow 2013.