London Athletes At Home - OLYMPIC ROUND-UP
By any measure this has been an outstanding Olympic Games for Newham and Essex Beagles. Stratford welcomed the world, and the local club athletes more than played their part in the success of the British athletics team. But there are many other ways in which Athletics in Newham has benefitted. A new track at our home at Terence McMillan Stadium, the chance for many of our young athletes to see and even train with world stars, the physical legacy of a magnificent Olympic Park, and not forgetting the involvement of so many of our members as Games Makers. Here we focus on the achievements of the eleven Beagles athletes selected to compete in the Games – the most of any athletics club in Britain.
- 1. MO FARAH (5000m, 10000m) - GOLD MEDAL
There’s not much left to be said. Mo is the outstanding British distance runner of all time. Nothing short of a national treasure. His double win puts him on a par with any of the greats in Olympic distance running history – Paavo Nurmi, Emil Zatopek, Lasse Viren, Kenenisa Bekele. Highly favoured in the longer event, he bided his time ina relatively slow run race. The Eritrean took on much of the donkey work, but the pace was slow as Mo hit the front with 500 metres remaining with ten athletes close behind. Mo’s last lap of 53 seconds was too quick for the rest, with Galen Rupp finishing 2nd ahead of the Bekele brothers. The 5000 metres was even slower, passing 2km in 5.56 and 3km in 8.42 – a suitable pace for Scott Sterling to have fancied his chances. But the pace increased over the last four laps and Mo again hit the front before the bell. The expected challenge from fast finishers like Lomong, Aguider and Lagat never materialised and Mo battled home to win from Gebremeskel and Longosiwa in 13.41.66.
Mo joined Beagles in late 2004. It was a crucial point in his career, as he had decided to get serious and bridge the gap between being the best prospect in Britain and a real world class runner. His debut for NEB was at Sutton Park in April 2005, and on the track at Haringey later that year. He has been a key part of teams which have won the national 6 and 12 stage road relays, and his 800/1500 double at Birmingham in 2007 was a significant factor in our fight against relegation. Married to Tanya who is expecting twins, Mo is now based in Oregon for most of the year and has moved to a level that makes it unlikely he will compete for Beagles in the foreseeable future. But he’ll be back somewhen and we are fortunate to be associated with a great champion and all-round good guy.
- 2. CHRISTINE OHURUOGU - (400m) - SILVER MEDAL
Defending the title she had won in Beijing in 2008, Christine did little wrong as she struck late to finish 2nd behind the outstanding Sanya Richards-Ross. Christine’s time of 49.70 was her 3rd best ever, and a welcome return to form after a sticky couple of years. She remains a great championship runner, at her best when the chips are down and there’s a need to deliver through a punishing schedule of heats, semis and final. On the last day in the stadium, Christine also ran the last leg of the 4x400, but was never in with a chance of mounting a challenge for a medal as the team finished 5th.
- 3. ROBBIE GRABARZ (HIGH JUMP) - BRONZE MEDAL
Robbie crowned an outstanding breakthrough year by finishing joint 3rd with a leap of 2.29metres. he shared the bronze position with Essa barshim of Qatar and Derek Drouin of Canada, with Erik Kynard (USA) 2nd and Ivan Ukhov (Russia) a comfortable winner. We had met Ukhov in Castellon in the Euro Clubs in 2009, and his win was well deserved, but Robbie actually bettered him in the qualifying competition with another 2.29m leap. Based in Birmingham and coached by the indefatigable Fuzz Ahmed, Robbie has been a regular performer for NEB in the British League and wore the Beagles colours in Diamond League meetings this summer.
- 4. STEVE LEWIS (POLE VAULT) EQUAL 5TH
The best performance ever by a British male pole vaulter in a major championships. Steve has seemed on the verge of a breakthrough to world class for many years but has serially under performed. The omen's in the early part of this summer weren’t promising either, but then he broke the British record in Szczecin in July and it was game on. His clearance at 5.75 metres was his second best ever, and he would have needed to break his own British record twice to have featured in the medals. A great performance.
- 5. CHRIS TOMLINSON (LONG JUMP) - 6TH
For so many years, Chris has tied with Greg Rutherford for the right to be known as best British long jumper. They even share the British record. Chris qualified comfortably for the final with an 8.06m jump and led in the final after the first round with an 8.07m. So far so good. But then Greg (who competed once for the Beagles as an HCA many years ago) took the lead in the second round with an 8.21m. Chris remained 3rd at the end of three rounds but was unable to find the big jump which he is capable of and slipped to 6th in the final reckoning as Greg rubber stamped the formbook and won with 8.31m. A good solid outing for Chris but he finished agonisingly short of the medals.
- 6. MOUMIN GEELE (5000m) - 13TH
Only Dave Mitchinson and Kairn Stone have won more team gold medals than Moumin on the roads and over the country. 2nd in the 2010 National Cross Country Champs, Moumin now competes for the tiny country of Djibouti. Here, he became that country’s first ever Olympic finalist as he ran 13:21.21 in the second heat of the 5000m. Briefly moving to the front in the final with five laps to go, he managed to get the better of a couple of his rivals in a last lap burn up to complete a very satisfying Games.
- 7. LEE MERRIEN (MARATHON) - 30TH
Based in Guernsey but Lee has been a key component of the Beagles teams in the winter. His record in marathons is tremendous – he never seems to have a bad run. Having been selected on appeal after an excellent run in this year’s London Marathon, lee buckled down to a hard summer of training in Font Romeu. Passing halfway in 66.31 in the fifties, Lee made relentless progress to finish as top Brit in 30th place in a time of two hours seventeen minutes. A very respectable return on a warm morning in London.
- 8. RABAH YOUSIF (400m) - 4TH IN SEMI FINAL
One of Athletics great characters and an excellent club man, Rabah is based in Middlesbrough where he is coached by the excellent Carol Williams. Once again, he was so close to making the final. After running 45.46 in his heat, Rabah returned for the semi final to equal his personal best of 45.13 – the 11th fastest time in the semi finals, and a quicker time than any of the British runners. Once again, so close, but the man who carried the flag for Sudan in the opening ceremony will be back and he will go sub 45 seconds. Likely to run in BAL at Liverpool on Saturday.
- 9. ERISON HURTAULT (400m) - 6TH IN HEAT
An occasional performer for Beagles because he lives in New York, Erison was voted man of the match in our last appearance in the European Clubs Champs in 2011. Here, representing Dominica, Erison placed 5th in his heat of the 400 metres in a season’s best of 46.05. An intelligent and warm person, we’re hoping Erison’s next appearance in a Beagles vest will be at Liverpool next weekend.
- 10. ABDUL BUHARI (DISCUS) - 16TH IN QUALIFYING
- 11. JAMES ELLINGTON - (200m) - 6TH IN HEAT
One of the classiest people you’ll ever meet, Abdul works part time in Canary Wharf, travelling each week to Loughborough to link up with his coach, Mark Wiseman. Abdul has had a bitty season but his performance here was close to his season’s average – but a best of 60.08 was insufficient to progress. So good to see british discus throwers going over 60 metres though.
This wasn’t the performance that James was hoping for as he recorded his slowest time of the season. His bend was strong but he lost form in the straight and finished dejected in 21.23. But what a year for the John Powell coached athlete! This is the man who ‘sold’ himself on ebay, picked up a sponsorship deal to enable him to train full-time, and deservedly qualified for the Olympics as Britain’s top 200 metres man. A case of the journey surpassing the final destination. James will be back.
So Newham and Essex Beagles ended the 2012 Games with two golds, one silver, one bronze and two more top six finishes. That’s a remarkable record which would have placed us very high in the Athletics medals table had Newham declared independence in the lead up to the Olympics.