Tasha Danvers: Athletes’ families are suffering just as much as the fans when it comes to empty seats


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The Independent Online

These Olympics started brilliantly but the momentum from the opening ceremony has been dampened by the empty seats we are seeing across the Games.

I find it a bit bizarre considering that when the tickets were first put on sale we were told they could have been sold seven times over. On top of that, there are hundreds of fans outside stadiums who are trying to buy tickets only to be told the events are sold out.

Probably the worst part of the debacle is that the athletes could have invited more of their family and friends to watch them but most have been restricted to only two or three tickets.

I hope the problem is solved before the athletics starts on Friday. I’m excited to see Dai Greene, Perri Shakes-Drayton and Jack Green in my old event, the 400m hurdles. I honestly think they represent some of our best medal contenders.

Most of the media and public focus has been on Jessica Ennis and I understand that but it’s meant athletes such as Dai, Perri and Jack haven’t had quite the same distractions and can simply focus on the job at hand. All three of them are coming into form at just the right time so the task during the next couple of days is a matter of focusing and believing they can do it because they can.

For some athletes such as myself, the dream of performing at a home Olympics was ended before it began and I really feel for Paula Radcliffe after what she’s been through.

Paula will never compete at a home Games and the Olympic title remains one of the accolades she has yet to add to such an amazing career. This is the injury she picked up in 1994 and was told she would never run again because of it. The fact she has gone on to achieve what she has is quite amazing.

I was talking to Kelly Sotherton at the opening ceremony, who was obviously disappointed to have missed out on London 2012 because of injury but the disappointment for Paula must be even more. Having been picked for Team GB, the cruelty of the timing of Paula’s foot condition is that she would have been kitted out and had done all her pre-Olympic training. She is such a resilient individual I wouldn’t be surprised if she comes back even stronger.

Of the British athletes who are at the Games, the younger ones may be thinking that if they can do well with the expectancy of a home nation and the pressure to perform they can compete anywhere.

But for others it can be a case of, “Where do we go from here?” It can be a magnificent part of many athletes’ careers but how do you find the motivation for future competitions? For a British athlete, this is as good as it gets and I think some athletes may struggle to stay competitive at future Games.

Danvers’ exclusive column comes courtesy of Japanese sportswear brand Mizuno. Mizuno’s new Performance Centre is open to the public at Centre Point Building, 101- 103 New Oxford Street. Visit mizunoseiei.com for more information.