Covering the OFSAA track and field finals
It has been an intersting few days here in London at these provincial high school track and field finals hosted by the University of Western Ontario.
Lots of excellent performances by teenage athletes from the Greater Toronto Area, some records, some personal bests and some disappointments. Lots of coaches, parents, friends showing their support - but the crowds have been smaller than in previous years.
Maybe the downpour on Thursday - and it was quite the electrical storm mixed with thunder that sent athletes running for cover - scared people away. The long and triple jump pits were flooded while pockets of the track looked like wading pools. Friday was fine, but the skies are overcast again Saturday for this final day.
More records set to be challenged. Some could also fall - if the wind levels remain low and the rain stays away.
But observing things other than just the athletes, I was thinking that if there were awards for non-athletes, my vote goes to the grounds staff, security and therapists.
Yes, the championship started more than one hour late because of the inclement weather, but the UWO people were out in force along with a wave of support staff to get things cleaned up. They don't get much credit because people just want to see athletes perform.
And helping to get some athletes ready were a group of massage therapists. At tables beside the grandstand, I counted seven trained therapists working non-stop (and I didn't see anyone charging) working on leg and arm muscles. Looked tempting, but I didn't ask them if they had 15 minutes for me at the end of the day.
I also wouldn't want to be a security guard. These guys, regardless of some of them looking like bouncers, took so much abuse from fans. All they were trying to do was keep the front of the stands clear so people could watch, and yet they were continuously harrassed, called in-appropriate names and, well, you get the idea.
Some parents wanted a quick snap on the camera of their children. Fair. But some fans decided it would be nice to stand up and move forward just as the 100 metre final started blocking the view. They did it for other events as well. Others were just obnoxious to the guys trying to do their job so everyone could watch.
Gold medals, from me, to the grounds staff, the security and the massage therapists.