This one is special for me, admits Coe on eve of athletics test event
Thursday, 03 May 2012
May 3 - London 2012 chairman Sebastian Coe revealed that the athletics test event for the Olympics, the British Universities and Colleges Sport (BUCS) Visa Outdoor Athletics Championships, will be particularly special for him when the four-day event gets underway tomorrow.
Athletics is widely considered the blue-ribbon sport of the Olympic Games and it will feature some of the biggest stars of London 2012 including Jamaica's sprint king Usain Bolt and British heptathlete Jessica Ennis.
The BUCS Visa Outdoor Athletics Championships, which will run from May 4 until 7 at the Olympic Stadium, will see around 1,500 student athletes from around 100 of Britain's higher education institutions compete in a full programme of track and field events in a championships that will be used by London 2012 to test all the key facilities at the venue.
Coe (pictured above) admitted that it will be the test event that means the most to him on a personal level not just because he is vice-president of the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) but because athletics was the sport in which he became a legend by winning the 1500 metres Olympic gold at both Moscow 1980 and Los Angeles 1984.
"Of course this event is special for me," said Coe, who set eight outdoor and three indoor world records in middle distance track events in his glittering career.
"It is no secret that athletics is my big passion and the sport that I hold in the highest regard.
"Athletics will obviously be one of the most popular and watched events at London 2012 so it is really important that this venue, like all of our other Games venues, is fully tested and prepared for when the athletes arrive.
"Testing the Olympic Park and its operations is a hugely important part of our plans and I am delighted for the young athletes that will get the chance to make history by competing in this fantastic Olympic Stadium.
"I am very proud of this venue, proud that it will have an athletics legacy after the Games with the 2017 World Athletics Championships and proud that it is set to stage the biggest sporting event in the world."
Coe also revealed that he has invited the IAAF President Lamine Diack to join him as guest of honour to watch the test event, with Diack set to be in attendance this Saturday (May 5).
The athletics test event will see a full programme of track and field events take place over four days of competition with students battling for medals in 40 events.
In addition, UK Athletics has revealed that more than 140 athletes will be competing in the test event, including London 2012 hopefuls pole vaulter Holly Bleasdale (pictured above) and Perri Shakes-Drayton, the 400m hurdler.
The elite athletes will be competing in separate exhibition races alongside the students with around 40,000 ticketed spectators set to watch from the stands.
"Preparing our athletes for what to expect when they walk into the Olympic Stadium at Games time is almost impossible," said UK Athletics head coach Charles Van Commenee.
"The noise of an Olympic Stadium when a home favourite walks out just cannot be replicated.
"This test event will form an important part of some athletes' preparation.
"At this event they will get the chance to familiarise themselves with the Olympic Stadium and we can remove a number of unknown factors for them.
"We are looking forward to our first experience in the magnificent Olympic Stadium."
The athletics test event will be one of several taking place on the Olympic Park over the next few days with hockey, wheelchair tennis, water polo, boccia and Paralympic athletics all currently underway or set to begin in Stratford.
In total, over 140,000 spectators and 3,000 athletes will be on the Olympic Park for the test events
At peak times over 60 Pedestrian Screening Areas at Stratford Gate and 15 at Greenway Gate will allow access for a minimum of 4,000 spectators to enter the Park each day, peaking at approximately 75,000 on May 5.
"When this final group of events is delivered we will have carried out 42 test events in 12 months, across 28 venues, which is one of the most comprehensive testing programmes for an Olympic and Paralympic Games," said London 2012 director of sport Debbie Jevans.
"The coming days are the big final test of our Olympic Park operations and sporting venues and also our workforce, who have been excellent throughout all of the events."
Next week will also see the School Games take place on the Olympic Park on May 9 with the Olympic Stadium, Aquatics Centre and Velodrome set to be used for the competition for promising school children.
May 2012: Final London 2012 test events get underway at Olympic Park
March 2012: London 2012 Olympic Stadium to be opened by member of public
February 2012: Olympic Stadium to be opened with British University Championships