The competition was enjoyed by casual devotees but track and discipline still feels like its flub in the dark since losing whiz attraction
Just under a year ago in London Usain Bolt grabbed the communicate baton for the final time in his career, swapped it from his left hand to right and then pressed down hard on the afterburners. First he flew. Then he hop-skip before, as the ache from a torn hamstring slam, removing to his knees.
It could have been a metaphor for the next 11 months of the athletic: the stimulate of the 2017 world-wide championships, with its stadia jam-pack and 10 million watch Bolt’s and Mo Farah’s farewell, replaced by a slowing down and detachment from casual observers.
Right now athletics feels like a sport flub uncertainly in the dark, trying to find a way to shape the public care in the post-Bolt world. The Jamaican was not only its biggest artillery but its greatest crutch.
And so to Saturday night in the Olympic Stadium, for the inaugural Athletics World Cup- a new and much-hyped eight-nation affair. Once again as the first day drew to a close the British, American and Jamaican teams were squaring off in the 4x100m. Only this time the mentions were very different.
None of the British squad who gave a national register of 37.47 to take gold at last year’s macrocosm championships was there. Nor was any of the Americans who finished second or, surely, the Jamaicans. In fact nothing of Britain’s 10 fastest 100 m athletes was vying- with the team led out by Reuben Arthur, who has the 23 rd-fastest time in the UK in 2018.
Does this matter? You might think so. After all the British Athletics chief executive, Niels de Vos, had predicted that the overall excellence would be “astonishing”. But many of Britain’s hotshots, including Dina Asher-Smith, Laura Muir and Reece Prescod, were missing- together with many other pavilion mentions including Caster Semenya and American sprinter Noah Lyles, fastest being in the world this year.
Imagine having a World Cup with no Ronaldo, Neymar and Messi, and with Jermain Defoe up front for England. It wouldn’t run, would it?
And hitherto British Athletics would bicker- with some rationale- that crowding more than half of the London Stadium on a Saturday when England’s footballers and cricketers were in action, as well as the Wimbledon women’s singles final, was a respectable first stab. Sunday had fewer devotees, but they are continuing experienced picturing the US team run away with the award and the seeing of a makeshift British team battling to third.
Perhaps there is something to the idea of team competition. After all, racing’s Shergar Cup does not attract the best ponies hitherto its team-based happening attracts big crowds to Ascot. Surely those in the stadium seem to enjoy specific actions. A acquaintance of mine who had wasted PS70 on his ticket seemed happy enough for a one-off- although he admitted the athletics was ” far from world-class “.
That seemed to sum up members of the general mood. Reasonably witty, interesting format, caliber and TV coverage leaving a lot to be desired.
But the final judgement needs to wait: until UK Athletics’ balance sheet has been properly assessed and scrutinised, until after the impact on the crowd for this week’s Anniversary Games is known, and- in the long term- on whether it introduces new followers to the boast. Ultimately it also needs to create a genuine bequest. There is talk of China being interested in hosting in 2020. But how many aces will be persuasion to turn up in an Olympic year?
Read more: www.theguardian.com