March 25, 2006

Z and I – together with around 80,000 other people – filled the MCG to watch the track and field portion of Day 9 of the Commonwealth Games here. Some highlights:

  • The completed renovations at the MCG make the huge stadium very easy to navigate. We got there early, so had no long queues to deal with (once we were at the ground itself – it was another matter on the train network). It’s easy to get in and out of the ground, the seats were comfortable, the view was good on Deck 2 of the Olympic Stand, and once the stadium filled up, you understood why the MCG is such a popular venue. It fits so many people, yet you feel very close to the action.

  • The crowd was good-natured. Much alcohol was consumed by some of our neighbours (the trip to the bar was very short, and repeatedly taken), but any drunks were quiet and happy drunks, not loud and angry ones. We were, as a whole, terribly parochially Australian, but not without occasional flashes of appreciation for athletes of other countries.

  • One crowd favourite in the latter category was Sapolai Yao, the 1.52 metre tall distance runner from PNG who earned the appreciation of the crowd by enthusiastically completing the 3km steeplechase, nearly managing to hold off being lapped by the lead Kenyan runners.

  • One crowd favourite in the other category were Steve Hooker who pole vaulted a Games’ record. He entred the competition with a jump at 5.6 metres, when most of the other competitors had failed to make that height or lower. He flew over the bar and with his first jump it was obvious that he could go much higher. He easily cleared 5.7 and 5.8, winning the Gold medal at 5.6 when the remaining competitor, Dmitri Markov failed at 5.7 and 5.75 He tried for a personal best of 6.01, but despite the crowd support, he didn’t make it.

  • Other crowd heroes were Stuart Rendell who threw a games record in the Hammer Throw, and Bronwyn Thompson who set a new Games record in the Long Jump.

  • Miscellaneous moments of drama: the Australian Sally McLellan crashed through the last hurdle in the Women’s 100m, to be disqualified. Marlon Devonish and Mark Lewis-Francis from the English Men’s 4x100m relay team fluffed the baton change. They weren’t very happy with that…

  • A nearly-five-year-old can have a wonderful time with a very late night, cheering madly, and looking gog-eyed at all of the people, all of the strange things they’re doing, and making his own plans for a future pole-vault career.

Some of these moments are captured in the photos from March on my photo page.

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I’m Greg Restall, and this is my personal website. ¶ I am the Shelby Cullom Davis Professor of Philosophy at the University of St Andrews.



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