And what a day out at the Alexander Stadium in Birmingham last Sun., 26 Aug 2012 for the Aviva Diamond league Grand Prix athletics meeting. The Olympics effect continued in the numbers attending and was reflected in the delight of families and young and old enjoying a great day out. With my wife Jane I walked from Perry Park to the stadium listening to French and Urdu, Polish and Black Country voices – and Brummie.
Inside the stadium, the organisation was slick. Everything went like clockwork; and the smiling volunteers…black, asian, white, mixed, mirrored the athletes and exemplified Birmingham’s ethnicity working at its best. Oh, and at last a proper sunny summer’s day as well.
We were treated to see Mo Farah in sublime form, great American athletes like Aries Merrit and Carmelita Jeter, GB’s Christine Ohuruogu, the Kenyans, Jamaicans, Russians…apologies to those I don’t mention; they were all there!
But what inspired me was the story – so far – of 24 years old Robbie Grabarz, a GB athlete, a high jumper who lives only a stone’s throw away from this wonderful Birmingham venue (the home of Birchfield Harriers) where Robbie hones his craft. In his own words, Robbie (a Cambridgeshire lad) was ‘skint’ last year. And at a crossroads having seen his Lottery funding axed; he could drop his head and give up, walk away from disappointment, feel crushed. Or do something else. That something else that makes the difference: dig deep, find your inner resolve, fight for your dream. That’s what Robbie did in the year that followed. He gained an Olympics bronze medal, in Laussane he broke Steve Smith’s 20 year high jump record with a lifetime best jump of 2.37m. With the help of his coach and good people around him, he won in Birmingham on Sunday ahead of Russian Ivan Ukhov. I believe he will do yet more in the future. Onwards and upwards – Where else for a great high jumper?
Robbie’s story – believe in your dream, work hard to achieve your dream – accept helping hands along the way; that’s how you make your dreams happen. For his victory in Birmingham he got $10,000. If he succeeds tomorrow in Zurich he tops the Diamon league (Thurs 30 Aug.) and wins $50,000. In his own words, when asked how that sum compares with his earnings for 2011, he said, ‘About $50,000. I’ve worked my ass off to get where I am now – I feel like I deserve it.’
Writing might seem a long way from high jumping. But sometimes as a writer it’s necessary to raise your personal bar, overcome your doubts and get your result. Learn from Robbie Grabarz.
Okay, I’ll lighten up now – hey, see photo of me and Mo together doing the Mobot! Is Mo that tall or am I so short-arsed?