If ever an athletics event came alive surely this Müller International Grand Prix at the Birmingham Barclays Indoor Arena did. Forty eight Personal Bests and fourteen National Records were set in a four-hour period on Saturday 18th. February.
We were not disappointed as the expected fireworks in both the Women's 1000m and the Men's 5000 metres materialised.
Laura Muir from Scotland in the 1000 metres was paced over 800 metres by Jenny Meadows and went on to gain her European and National Record of 2:31.93 minutes – only one second away from the World Record.
Not to be outdone, Sir Mo Farah, after a disappointing Edinburgh cross-country six weeks earlier, had a 5000 metres race on his hand with the Bahrainian Albert Rop hounding Mo to the line in a National Record time of 13:09.16 minutes – a race where the first four obtained National Records for their respective countries.
Another race which produced twelve Personal Bests was the Women's 3000 metres. Hellen Obiri of Kenya, a consistent middle-distance runner, came good with a National Record of 8:29.41 minutes.
Our appetite for the outdoor season was further whetted by the explosive running of the Jamaican Elaine Thompson, Olympic Champion at both 100 and 200 metres, and who seems to be improving on each outing. She gained her Personal Best and Stadium Record of 6.98 seconds for the 60 metres.
There were many other outstanding displays that gave the capacity crowd of 15800 something to shout about and yet each of the athletes I interviewed (including Laura Muir, Sir Mo Farah, Hellen Obiri, Jeff Henderson, Aries Merritt and Godfrey Khotso Mokoena) indicated their efforts and laurels only came about through hard work. Unless they do the hard work and put in the miles and dedicate themselves to the techniques required then they do not achieve their goals.
And even then things don't come easy. Every athlete goes through injury problems. Others struggle with their run-ups. Still some have huge family disappointments. Major health issues disrupt a number and yet they still press on! What determination, perseverance, stick-ability, and some even cry out to God in their situation and He answers!
Both last week's Planet Sport and this week's programme bring perspectives on the Müller Indoor Grand Prix in Birmingham:
By Norman Brierley