Kinney sets stadium first
A psychology student at the University of Loughborough became the first athlete to win a race in London's Olympic Stadium on Friday.
Justine Kinney, 24, became a pub answer of the future when she claimed the first heat of the women's 400 metres hurdles at the British Universities and Colleges Sport (BUCS) Championships, which is doubling at the athletics test event for this summer's London 2012 Games.
On a cold and overcast evening, it was no surprise her unremarkable time of 59.79 seconds was more than two and a half seconds slower than her personal best, but Kinney - who is studying for a Masters degree - was well aware of the significance of the occasion.
"I know I should probably have eased up a little bit more, but because it was the first race on the track I really wanted to win it," she said, also becoming the first athlete to test out the mixed zone where athletes will speak to reporters after their Olympic dreams are achieved or dashed.
"It's probably not going to bode well for tomorrow, but I really wanted to go for it and it was so quick. The track feels amazing. It feels like you could fly down it, it feels wonderful.
"I'm so privileged to run here, I've been looking forward to this so much. Normally BUCS is a bit of an opening to the season, good championship practice, but this year it feels like a major championship in itself because we're here.
"All I wanted to do was get here in and be in good shape and really get in medal contention, because the feeling of running down that home straight then, even though it was a heat of BUCS, feels amazing, absolutely brilliant."
Despite 'only' being student athletes, the competitors were going through the same processes as will be used come Games time in July and August.
That meant a 45-minute call-up period, full escort onto the track, being led through an empty broadcast interview area after their race, and even a 'plastic' row about switching nationalities thrown in for good measure.
"Both my grandparents are Irish but I ran for England previously," added Kinney.
"It just gave me a better opportunity, the quality in this country is so good at the moment. I'm so proud to be Irish, I thought why not? I was born in Birmingham, but my dad's Irish and both grandparents are.
"I wouldn't say I was plastic Irish at all!"
A number of Britain's Olympic hopefuls will be in action over the weekend, but the likes of Ennis, Farah, Phillips Idowu and Dai Greene have opted not to compete for various reasons.
Local favourite Perri Shakes-Drayton, who was born just down the road from the stadium, was a late withdrawal after gaining a place in the first Diamond League meeting of the season in Doha next week, meaning star quality was somewhat thin on the ground.
However, that was never really the point. This weekend is about making sure everything works, fixing those things which do not and ironing out the kinks in the system.
There was certainly no shortage of people to direct media and spectators from Stratford train and tube station, including several pointing the way with large, novelty foam fingers and resisting the temptation to seek shelter from the drizzle.
Accreditation also ran smoothly to allow access to the Olympic Park, but how the system copes with the rather larger numbers expected this summer remains to be seen.
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