Ahead of this weekend’s Sainsbury’s Anniversary Games, six London 2012 gold medallists from across the globe, including the fastest man in history, Usain Bolt, came together to talk about their expectations ahead of the event which takes place between the 24-26 July at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park.
A large audience greeted the double Olympic and world 100m and 200m champion Bolt who will race over 100m on Friday night as the Stadium reopens.
Bolt said: “The Olympic Stadium is definitely one of my favourite stadiums. I know the support is going to be big tomorrow so I am looking forward to it. Everywhere I go there are always a lot of Jamaicans in the crowd especially in London and I come here for the fans, they support me and I want to do great for them. I want to put on a show.”
Asked about his recent injury, Bolt said “I won’t know how it is until tomorrow. I have worked hard in training so we will see how it is. This will be my test for Beijing (IAAF World Championships).
“I’m very excited for Beijing and a little bit nervous. I set the bar quite high last time. I am not going there to lose – I always ensure I am ready for Championships. For me it just takes one run to get to 9.7. It is the first 40m that is important and if I get that right, I know I’ll be ok.”
On the increase in British sprinting talent Bolt said “I have been hearing about it and seeing the work that is being put in by the guys and overtime this will show up in their times.”
David Rudisha, who set the world 800m record winning gold in the Olympic Stadium three years ago, will take on a world class field where he will face Nijel Amos of Botswana, who has had the upper hand in their last few meetings.
“To be back at the Olympic Stadium after London 2012 will be really special for me. I have some great memories and it’s going to be a proud moment for me. It’s going to be a great race this weekend and I know I’m going to have to be at my best to come out on top.”
World record holder and Olympic gold medallist for the pole vault, Renaud Lavillenie, won the event in 2013, and is excited at the prospect of jumping well at the Anniversary Games once again.
The Frenchman said: “I think I’m ready to win. I’m in very good shape and in a good condition to jump near to my best. The stadium will have a very good crowd and that will help me find extra motivation for the jump. I have great memories from the stadium in 2013 (Anniversary Games), it brought so much back to me from the Olympics and it helped me to jump 6.02m, which was a personal best for me back then.”
Sanya Richards-Ross, gold medallist in the 400m at London 2012 was incredibly excited to be heading back to the Stadium and taking in the atmosphere once again. She will be competing over 200m on Saturday where she will take on Britain’s golden girl, Jessica Ennis-Hill (Toni Minichiello) and expects the crowd to be vocal once again.
The American commented: “This is my favourite place to be and I have the fondest memories of the Olympic Stadium. Even yesterday when I went training at Mile End track, I started to remember how amazing it was in 2012, preparing for London. To be able to compete here again is really a blessing. There is going to be great competition and I’m really looking forward to it.
Reflecting upon London 2012, she added: “The crowd was fantastic – I had Christine (Ohuruogu) in my race and I literally wanted to put my hands over my ears because it was so loud but it was so memorable. I hope there will be a big turnout on Saturday to cheer us on – that will be phenomenal. The crowd will have great memories of 2012 too and hopefully they will use that energy to support us all again.”
Shot putter and double Olympic gold medallist, Valerie Adams also said: “I love competing in London where you get the very best support. I have family in the UK so that always helps.”
Aries Merritt, 110m hurdle Olympic gold medal winner and world record holder, who will celebrate his birthday tomorrow, commented:
“I hope to be able to repeat my London experience. Being here sparks great memories. The crowd is always great so it is great to be back at the amazing stadium in front of such amazing fans. Running well here means the world to me. I hope it will be a positive experience to run on my birthday! After I hope to celebrate with a visit to the Harry Potter experience as I am a huge fan.”
To buy tickets to the Sainsbury’s Anniversary Games visit britishathletics.org.uk. Sainsbury’s is proud to be a long-term supporter of British Athletics and a champion of inclusive sport for all, from grassroots to elite level.