AW promotion: More magic moments in store as famous track gets set to host the Müller Grand Prix for the next two years
Gateshead International Stadium has provided the stage for some unforgettable athletics moments over the years and it looks like there are plenty more to come following the confirmation that the famous venue is to host the Müller Grand Prix from next summer.
Given the redevelopment of Birmingham’s Alexander Stadium, the showpiece event will move to the North East and an arena which has hosted international grands prix in the past and is also the only venue to have held the European Athletics Team Championships on three occasions – in 1989, 2000 and 2013.
“It’s brilliant to be returning to the North East. We know from previous events how passionate their spectators are and how much they appreciate and respect the heritage of the sport,” said British Athletics Major Events Director Cherry Alexander, with Gateshead confirmed as Müller Grand Prix hosts for 2020 and 2021, while there will be the option of hosting other events up until 2025.
“The venue has proved time and time again it can host world-class athletics and international championships, so we know we’re going to have a great experience working with them once again.”
Gateshead was the location of the first Diamond League event to take place in the UK nine years ago.
On that day Phillips Idowu won the men’s triple jump, future Olympic champions Eliud Kipchoge and Mo Farah contested the 5000m and Tyson Gay defeated Asafa Powell in the men’s 100m.
Speaking of Powell, one of the greatest moments in the stadium came when the Jamaican sprinter equalled the world record in 2006, setting a new one when taken down to the thousandths in a time of 9.77.
Powell’s 2006 Grand Prix win wasn’t the only world-beating performance in the North East. The current world record-holder for the women’s pole vault, Yelena Isinbayeva, broke the mark twice in back-to-back events in 2003 and 2004, clearing 4.82m and 4.87m.
She wasn’t the first, however, as Daniela Bartova broke the women’s pole vault world record in 1995 with a vault of 4.14m on the same track.
The first world record to be broken on the track came by one of Britain’s greatest distance runners when Brendan Foster ran 7:35.20 for 3000m in 1974, four weeks before he won the European Championships over 5000m in Rome.
The most recent major event to be held at the Gateshead International Stadium was the European Team Championships six years ago.
The two-day event proved to be a success for Great Britain and Northern Ireland as they finished third in a close battle with Russia and Germany.
On that day, Farah gave Britain a shot at the title after a fantastic last lap in the men’s 5000m. Jess Judd, who will contest the women’s 5000m in Doha at the World Championships, emerged at this competition when she won the women’s 800m at the age of 18, making her the youngest female winner under the current format.
Other victors that day included three of the four sprint relay teams with Adam Gemili and Meghan Beesley among the names that still carry the legacy of British athletics to this day.
Now more of the current crop of athletes can show their talents and add their name to an impressive roll of honour.
» The 2020 event will take place on August 16
» Register for event and ticket updates via britishathletics.org.uk