Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 23 August 2014

Billy on the Box: Cool runnings

Thank heavens for Hazel Irvine. Not words that are used that often I grant you but what a joy it is to see athletics on the BBC being fronted by a proper presenter again.

Jonathan Edwards was obviously told to hop. skip and jump back to his big sandpit and do what he does best, commentate on the field events, as the London Grand Prix came to our screens on Friday and Saturday.

And it's great to have big-time athletics back as since Britain has become mostly rubbish live action and even highlights have become as rare as a Kenyan who can't run 5000 metres in the blink of an eye.

The main attraction though was a man who runs a lot less distance very quickly indeed — Usain Bolt, and surrounded by steel bands, and hordes of people dressed in yellow, green and black he was right at home at Crystal Palace.

But coming on air at tea-time clearly impacted the coverage, Hazel like a wee Highland terrier gnawing on a caber as news of a drugs shock from the Caribbean island came to light.

Beside her was the lovely Denise Lewis and Colin Jackson, who said it would be a shock for a Jamaican team who were 'on the up and up.' Indeed Colin, quite a blow.

Bolt's only artificial stimulus appears to be chicken nuggets and good to see Team GB taking this on board with loads of adverts for McCain's around the track.

It didn't work, two Brits false starting and having to stomp off without getting their Reeboks sweaty, but at least they got to dig into the Micro Chips nice and early.

Spare a thought for poor old Phil Jones, sent out to ask anyone remotely Jamaican about their opinion about the drugs story. I'm sure I spotted him following John Barnes and Rusty Lee about while a poor spectator taking a glug of Lilt was pounced on and asked for a sample by a man in a white coat.

It was also great to see coverage of Seb Coe from 30 years ago and even better to hear David Coleman and Ron Pickering's commentary on his world record-breaking antics.

The now Lord Coe looks the same and when there was talk of Farah coming onto the track I thought Ron and David were back but no it was a man called Mo.

It's no mean feat to see off the Kenyans over 5,000 metres, especially in beige slacks and slip-on shoes, but you get the feeling Bolt could beat anyone else in the world hopping while wearing flip-flops.

In horrendous conditions he ran 9.92 seconds and left everyone trailing like a puff of smoke in Jamaica.

We may have had Lewis Hamilton winning the Hungarian Grand Prix, Valentino Rossi climbing off the Donington tarmac to still finish in fifth place in the British MotoGP, but no-one could catch Usain — not even Phil.

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