Five things we learned on Athletics World Championship day 1 – Medals, doping and sartorial standards


  • It’s never too late: part I

Before the sports proper began there were medal ceremonies for races going back to the Berlin championships in 2009. This quirky prelude comes about due to the wonders of using new methods to test old samples from the athletes. Would you believe it, some who evaded bans back then have been collared now. Of the five medals assigned, British relay runners in the women’s 4x400m got hold of two bronzes and a silver. Not a bad haul really. Sebastian Coe, the president of the IAAF, which organises the championships, said the dopers would be caught eventually adding, “And the medals will go to whom they rightly belong.” Hurrah!

  • It’s never too late: part II

Rebecca Ferguson came onto the track in a very fetching red dress. No, not to compete but to sing the national anthem. Though only 31, the Liverpool lass attained stardom after appearing on the talent show The X Factor in 2010. A mother of two by the the age of 21, she said in an interview that she put her dreams of becoming a singer to the side to be able to concentrate on her children. Three albums, several big-selling singles and a singing slot at a world championships opening later, it’s fair to say she’s doing alright.

  • Sartorially slick Sadiq, the perfect fit

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan cut a dash during the opening speeches of the world championships. IAAF president Sebastian Coe was his ever-smooth self as he thanked everyone working behind the scenes. Prince Andrew was, well, princely, appearing on behalf of his mother to welcome the world’s best to the stadium named after her royal self. While the other two men wore suits and ties and kept the message bland, Khan opted for the dark suit and shirt but without a tie. On his dare to be different, he eulogised the plethora of cultures that had helped to make London a dynamic city. “London is open to all, no matter the colour of your skin.” Obviously he didn’t clear his speech with Her Majesty’s government.

  • They don’t forgive some people

Heat 5 of the men’s 100 metres and there is abit of cheering when the names are announced but when it came to Justin Gatlin there were jeers throughout the stadium. Not at all charming. But clearly some have not forgiven him for his doping ban. There was hardly rapture when he won the race in 10.05 seconds to advance to the semi-finals on day 2.

  • They do love their man

Heat 6 of the men’s 100 metres and the athletes limbered up. A certain Mr Bolt sprinted up the home straight and the people cheered. He smiled his big smile and they cheered some more. How are we going to live without this? The runners were announced. “The legend of athletics,” said the announcer about Bolt and the people, they roared some more. You hoped he didn’t get disqualified. He didn’t. He won in 10:07 seconds and will race on day two. Bless him!

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