Sunday, 4 March 2018

Birmingham - Art gallery and World Indoor Athletics Championships. And a snowstorm

I decided to go up to Birmingham for the World Indoor Athletics Championships. Booked a little airbnb and went up on Friday afternoon to catch the last 4 sessions, Friday night, Saturday morning and evening and Sunday afternoon. 

What I hadn't bargained for when I booked the tickets was the worst snow of the winter. Scenic, but not fun to trek through. Anyway, I took a peak into Birmingham Cathedral, most interesting because of the Burne-Jones stained glass windows, but definitely enhanced from the exterior by the snow.

I also wanted to visit the Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery in Victoria Square, and attractive heart to the City, but not currently at its best due to extensive renovations in the area. Its largely covered in hoardings.

Town Hall

 The Museum is suitably grand architecturally.

 The circular gallery which greets you first is a rather lovely space, with an Epstein angel in the centre.

This is the Industrial Gallery. Lots of cases literally showcasing Birmingham's design and manufacturing prowess, with neat comparisons to other cultures for inspiration.

So I was contentedly pottering around and looking forward to seeing the Pre-Raphaelites and the Staffordshire Hoard as probably the highlights of the collection when a chap came round to tell us the museum was closing in 10 minutes due to the snowy weather. Frankly I thought this was a bit of an overreaction. But then that was before I was sent out into it. Now there was a full scale blizzard on. Not pleasant.

Evidently gritting was not sen as a priority and I managed to fall over backwards and land on my posterior before I got to the airbnb.

As you can see, even the canal froze over. Finally I found my apartment, dumped my bag, had a warming cup of coffee and then went back out into the storm to find the Arena. Actually once IO found the way it was pretty direct and in any other conditions an easy walk. But this was through drifting snow and bitter cold. I did wonder what I was letting myself in for.

 Main reason for wanting to be theer on the Friday evening session is that it was the climax of the women's pentathlon, and so Katrina Johnson-Thompson going for gold, which she finally attained against a modest field of opposition. But gold is gold.

KTJ lining up for start of long jump.

One thing I quickly realised is that the light levels are much lower for an indoor event than outdoor. Not something you notice with the naked eye, but you do with the camera. Action shots were all just a blur, as you can see,.

Ashia Philip lining up for 60m sprint. No medal for her

Elliot Giles qualifying well for the 800m final.

Laura Muir in the 1500m heats, from which she emerged unscathed.

 Swiss heptahlete in High Jump section - see what I mean about blurry action shots?

 And here was KJT going in the 800m, which she duly won to collect gold. Stats below.

KJT collecting gold from the somewhat overblown medal ceremony
And to finish a first ever World Indoors gold for Hungary as Martok won the women's shot putt.

Day two meant up for the 10am morning session through a very snowbound Birmingham, but at least not as nasty as going through the wind and snow the night before.

The athletics arena

Was nice to get into the warm. This session included the heats of the 60m, generally quite easy qualifying for the semi-finals as there were loads of sprinters who were their country's sole representative and frankly not very good ones, from places like Tuvalu and French Polynesia.

This heat popped up and interesting contrast though. In the red vest in the middle the youngest competitor at the championships, a 16 year old from Malta. And next to him in the green the 41 year old Kim Collins from St Kitts. Collins qualified third but old age caught up with him and he didn't turn up for the semi-finals.

O'Hare in the 1500m heat, from which almost miraculously he qualified as a distant fastest loser.

Marcel Uibo of Estonia who had a stonking good high jump to get himself into contention for a medal (eventually striking bronze)

Tom Walsh, convincing winner of the shot for New Zealand
 At the end of the morning session I thought I would go back to the art gallery from which I had been ejected early the day before and then search for some mid-afternoon food. Unfortunately although the museum was surrounded by signs saying it was open as usual, it wasn't. They had not opened it because of the weather. So I went off to the Chinese Quarter in search of a Chinese meal.

Now at this juncture I should point out that Birmingham is not one of the country's most pedestrian friendly cities, even before major regeneration works. And when you get into the Chinese district, finally, its not great. A not very good dim sum meal down, I decided to head back to the arena. Although the evening session didn't start until 6pm, they promised to let you in from 4:30 and I just wanted to get out of the bitter cold.

CJ Ujah getting ready for the start of the 60m semi-finals, just before he false-started and was disqualified. Very disappointing.

The heptathletes lining up to take a bow after a tremendous competition which saw Mayer of France (far left) win by the tiniest of margins - just 5 points.

Sandi Morris, winner of a very exciting pole vault over Sidorova of Russia. Not keen on any Russians competing, even a s neutrals. There were not many.
 Finally to Sunday morning. Now distinctly milder and the snow turning to slush. Felt safer wandering along the canal sides.

To my surprise, and delight, the art gallery was open again, so I could see the best parts of the collection. The Pre-Raphalites are good, with a lot of Burne-Jones ( a local lad) and Holman Hunt.
Below is May Morning, pretty painting in a very striking copper frame.

 The Staffordshire Hoard is housed here in a new gallery. It isn't easy to display given its fragmentary nature, but the bigger pieces are quite astonishing. The better parts are where they have added replicas to give a better view of what the sword fitments or necklaces would have looked like.

I had lunch in the Edwardian tea-rooms - very pleasant.

Ten back off to the arena, this time meeting with friends who had come up from London.

It happened that our seats were right in front of the pole-vault and we wee just behind the coaches, so we heard all the coaching going on, the vaulters to a man coming over after each vault for a debrief.

The great Renaud Lavillenie of France, who started later than the rst of the field, but duly won his gold.

Osman-Clarke doing lap f honour after her bronze n the 800m

Line up for men's 1500m, a fast finish but just about the slowest start ever- hardly jogging pace to begin with

Pozzi getting ready to win the 60m hurdles by 1/100th of a second.

Celebrating his gold.

Kurtis Marschall of Australia. Felt like I adopted this young vaulter as his coach was sat in front of me and I could hear all their conversations. Felt very sad for him as he jumped amazingly well, got a PB but then was just pipped for the bronze

Three of the Polish quartet who finished the track programme by beating the USA on the line in the 4x400 relay in new world indoor record time.

1 comment:

  1. Have seen some of the Hoard on TV.
    You should have come to the Gold Coast for the C'wealth Games.