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No spitting, no arguing, no shirt-pulling...move over footballers, it’s athletes for us

PUBLISHED: 07:36 14 July 2017

Katarina Johnson-Thompson was among the many athletes setting an awesome example to all of us - and a super excited Keola. pic submitted

Katarina Johnson-Thompson was among the many athletes setting an awesome example to all of us - and a super excited Keola. pic submitted

Archant

We’ve got a healthy appreciation for long jumpers, and I don’t just mean the woolly kind, says Jo Malone.

I’ve added ‘make a long jump sandpit’ to my wish list of jobs for Rob.

I’ve crossed off tree house in anticipation that it’ll bump it up the list. It’s British Athletics’ fault, sort of.

Sunny, Keola, mum and I had tickets for the Muller Anniversary Games at the Olympic Park – Thalia has yet to appreciate the need to spend hours sweltering on a plastic seat cheering on various people she doesn’t know personally.

Sunny loves a day out with her family, Keola knows her noisy heartfelt support genuinely enthuses people to do their best and mum and I fully appreciate focused, fit, positive sportsmen and women who train and work and strive to be the very best they can be.

They’re inspirational - their joy for sport and for life is compelling.

Sunday’s athletics competition was amazing. It’s a seat lottery; besides a price bracket you don’t know where you’ll get – and seems it’s never near the finish line. But we definitely had the best seats ever - row three, right in front of the long jump pit.

It was a fantastic view, which got even better when the seats in front started filling up with the long-jumpers’ coaches and teammates.

These premier league athletes were phenomenal; they were not just so incredibly fit it was difficult to resist reaching out to touch them, but they were representing their country, champions at various national and international levels and many sported an Olympic five-ring tattoo.

They had an endearing air of not only the confident magnetism that comes from super fitness and competitive adrenaline, but humbleness too - no spitting, arguing or shirt-pulling for them. I’m not taking away the positive attitude of footballers, but many do have some disgusting habits. (Luckily for those of us holding up sportsmen as good examples, Norwich City has some inspirational individuals who are awesome role models. And yes, Ryan Bennett and Jonny Howson, we’ll miss your gentlemanship.)

But these athletes surpassed themselves. They were polite and thoughtful, talking quietly, keeping low in their seats so our view wasn’t obscured and happily agreeing to autographs while actively supporting everyone out on the track and field, whatever their nationality.

We were fascinated as competing athletes came over to talk to their coach on the seats near us after each jump. It was clear from the conversation, the listening and the nodding there was a huge amount of mutual trust and respect.

I’m still inspired by these long jumpers and teammates.

So, about that sandpit Rob, darling…

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