WRITTEN FOR THE LONDON 2017 WEBSITE ON BEHALF OF BRITISH ATHLETICS
With the London 2017 IAAF and IPC World Athletics Championships drawing ever closer, we spoke to a collection of London 2012 Olympians and Paralympians to gather their thoughts on returning to the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in under three years’ time.
Based in Stratford, East London, the championships will welcome the world’s finest track and field athletes back to the British capital just five years after hosting the spectacular 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.
The biennial events – of which London will stage the sixteenth and eighth editions, respectively – will represent the very first time each has been held both within the same city and in the same year, in July and August, 2017.
The Stadium held the first London Anniversary Games in the summer of 2013 and will do so again with an annual commemorative event following renovation to the venue as of next July.
T44 100m sprinter, Jonnie Peacock is one of many athletes looking forward to replicating his London 2012 heroics in 2017.
The 21-year-old captured Paralympic 100m gold before going on to win the 2013 IPC World 100m title and the 2014 IPC European 100m crown.
“I’m really looking forward to competing back in the Olympic Stadium in 2017, it’s a venue that holds so many special memories for me from winning gold in 2012 and it would be great to win a world title on home soil,” explained Peacock, who has already returned to the scene of his greatest victory at the 2013 Sainsbury’s International Para Challenge, where he sped to a 10.84 lifetime best.
“It’s fantastic that London will be the first city to host the IPC and IAAF World Championships so closely together, and it will be incredible if we can recreate that buzz and support that we had during the summer of 2012 and put on a real show for everyone.”
Three-time IPC World Championships F44 discus champion, Dan Greaves is determined to grab himself another global gold, and London 2017 would be the ideal venue.
The 32-year-old claimed the silver medal in the 2012 Paralympic F44 discus, following 2004 F44/46 gold and 2000 silver, together with F44 bronze in 2008.
“After the huge success of London 2012, to have another major athletics championships in the Olympic stadium is extremely encouraging not only for the sport and athletes but for the people of London to reignite their passion for sport in such an iconic setting,” revealed the 2014 Commonwealth champion.
“My experience competing in the stadium on ‘Thriller Thursday’ was such a buzz – the crowd really made it the best experience of my life,” recalled Greaves, who won the 2013 International Para Challenge.
“To have the opportunity to compete in front of friends and family on home turf, representing the nation again in the stadium in 2017 will be such an honour!”
For some athletes, however, London 2017 is not an opportunity to rekindle fond memories but to seek redemption.
Dai Greene had taken the 2010 European and Commonwealth 400m hurdles titles ahead of the 2011 world crown but following an injury-hit winter, he finished only fourth in the Olympic final and took the same position again in the 4x400m relay.
The 28-year-old – who collected the 2009 4x400m relay IAAF World Championships silver medal – has endured an injury-plagued past two seasons where he has competed sparingly but is confident of a return to form:
“I was very pleased to hear the news that London won the 2017 bid (in November 2011). The Olympics were incredible in London so knowing I was going to have another major competition in London makes me feel very lucky,” Greene explained.
“I cannot wait to be competing for a medal and hearing the home crowd cheering for me. Home crowds always provide huge amounts of support that we do not get from other competitions around the world, making these world champs something special for British athletes.”
Another to suffer disappointment at London 2012 was 1500m runner, Hannah England.
Having earned IAAF World Championship silver in 2011, she then failed to progress beyond the semi-final stage at the Games.
The 27-year-old bounced back to fourth place at the IAAF World Championships during the following season and she will be eager to do so again in 2017, following a below-par 2014 with Commonwealth seventh and European sixth place finishes, respectively.
“When London won the bid, I had just resumed winter training in preparation for London 2012 – it was really exciting to realise that London and the UK was going to get a third chance in five years to host a major athletics championships,” England revealed.
“I feel really lucky that my career will span the London 2012 Olympics, Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games and now the IAAF World Championships in 2017.”
“It is always a massive motivation to compete for my country. Having experienced the amazing atmosphere and support of a British crowd, I really want the chance to wear a British vest in front of a home crowd again.
“The IAAF World Athletics Championships is a wonderful competition, and like the Olympic Games, to have one in your own country in a dream come true.”