Three cheers for an Olympic and Paralympic encore

If you enjoyed London 2012, you’re going to love plans for a three-day mini-Olympics in London 2013

Ennis, Farah and Weir

Nothing quite beats the Olympics, but few people complain when the Zurich Weltklasse is dubbed the “three-hour Olympics” or the English Schools is nicknamed “the kids’ Olympics”. Similarly, I can’t imagine many will grumble if I describe the new London Anniversary Games as a three-day Olympics.

The July 26-28 event, which includes two days of Diamond League action and a third day of disability athletics, takes place in London’s Olympic Stadium exactly 12 months after the 2012 Olympics opening ceremony and could feature Olympic standard line-ups led by Usain Bolt, Mo Farah, Jess Ennis and Paralympic gold medallists such as David Weir.

A three-day festival of athletics in London at this time of year is not quite unique. The London Grand Prix has been a two-day event since 2007, with a third day for disability athletics in the same Crystal Palace stadium in south-east London added in 2009. The events on Friday and Saturday also gained IAAF Diamond League status in 2010.

But that was Crystal Palace and this is the Olympic Stadium, just 12 months after it staged the greatest show on earth, and the modest crowds for Sunday’s disability grand prix in recent years at Crystal Palace are certain to be dwarfed by the interest in watching Paralympians like Weir, Hannah Cockroft and Jonnie Peacock in the 80,000-seater stadium in north-east London.

Given the huge number of fans who were unable to get tickets to London 2012, there is also sure to be a huge scramble for seats. Certainly, I don’t envy the person in charge of ticket sales.

Such a mouth-watering meeting is a timely boost for a sport otherwise suffering from a post-Olympic hangover. Charles van Commenee, the British athletics team’s chief coach, and most of his key coaching personnel such as Ian StewartKevin Tyler, Dan Pfaff and Derek Evely have left their posts since the Olympics ended. Major sponsors such as Aviva and McCain have also gone, with replacements not yet named.

Meanwhile, negative stories have dominated the athletics news columns, with the likely demise of Don Valley Stadium, Toni Minichiello’s ugly spat with UKA and Belgrave’s decision to withdraw from the British Athletics League being just three recent examples.

Despondent cries of “legacy, what legacy?” have become commonplace this winter in the UK. Yet now there is something to genuinely cheer about with a golden opportunity to relive the excitement and atmosphere of London 2012.

» Jason Henderson tweets at @Jason_AW

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