Neither myself or Talulah have ever been at a sporting event like this before and but thanks to the 2012 Paralympic coverage on television and The Last Leg (one of the most important television shows in the UK in my opinion), we decided we would grab some tickets to an evening at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park.
Para Athletic World Championships 2017
Grant it, the London Stadium, as it’s now called is now also home to West Ham United but it will always be the Olympic Stadium. We were still living in Ireland when the Olympics took place in London in 2012, so this was a great opportunity to do something new, see a sporting event and visit the stadium.
Arriving at the venue
We arrived mega early so we went for a wander in Westfield and found a new bar. The Bat and Ball. Lovely laid back vibe, great sweet potato chips and there’s ping pong and pool! We’ll be back!
The stadium is literally five minutes walk from the shopping centre and all the trains and buses practically leave you at the door of the shopping centre. There are directions and volunteers everywhere, so even if you don’t know the area, there are signs and people to ask.
The now familiar security checks didn’t take long and we soon found ourselves in our seats.
Seats with a view – Liam Malone signs autographs
The thing with newly built stadia is that is pretty hard to find a bad seat. Our seats were along the straight, just before the finish line. New Zealand’s, Liam Malone, caused a stir at the Rio games last year. Unfortunately, he’s injured and couldn’t compete at the World Championships. Instead, he has found himself some work as a pundit / presenter. As he waited for his time to go to work to begin, he must have signed hundreds of autographs. The man is is a rock star!
Lots of events happening at once
If you haven’t been to an event like this before, let me describe it. There’s always music playing, except for when the starter’s gun is about to fire. There are lots of things happening at once, Shot put, discus, long jump and actual track events. It’s a good job there’s a stadium announcer to direct your view. If you’re not used to it, you could easily miss events happening.
The Main Event – Jonnie Peacock and Jason Smyth
This is absolutely no disrespect to all the other athletes but the big draws of the evening we attended were the T44 100m semi finals and finals which featured Britain’s Jonnie Peacock and the T13 final which featured the fastest para athlete on the planet, Jason Smyth.
Peacock, waltzed his way through the semi into the final and there’s no doubt that he was the reason that the majority of people were there tonight. The roar was deafening as his name was announced.
Two Gold Medals for Ireland
The very next track event after Jonnie Peacock’s run was Jason Smyth’s 100m final. There’s no stopping the man. One gold medal for Ireland. Smyth’s fourth world title at 100m.
Next up was Michael McKillop, who, I have to admit, didn’t know a lot about. He romped home to take his second world title in the T38 800m.
If you want to find out more about how the classification in para athletics works you can read this.
This was a really enjoyable night out. It was something we had never done before but we would definitely go to again. Talulah has come to GAA matches with me before and I have to say she didn’t really enjoy them. You could tell by her face. But, since this, she has said that she really enjoyed the evening.
There’s always something happening, the music keeps a decent atmosphere going and it was really lovely to see family and friends of the athletes getting so pumped up when they did well. Federica Maspero came second in the T44 400m final. Her husband and Mum were sitting in front of us, seeing their reaction was enough reason to be there.
The Championships run until July 23rd, if you get the chance go. You won’t regret it!