The opening Aviva International Match of the 2011 indoor athletics season at Glasgow’s Kelvin Hall International Sports Arena has been hailed a major success both on and off the track.
Over 2,000 spectators packed into a sold-out Kelvin Hall to watch some of the world’s leading athletes battle it out in the exciting team versus team competition. Despite some sensational performances from the Aviva GB & NI team, including Helen Cltiheroe’s stunning 3,000m win in a new stadium record time of 8:52.31, it was Germany who ran out eventual winners.
But afterwards it was clear the real winner was Glasgow, with athletes from both home and abroad lavishing praise on the city and the fans who once again created in an incredible atmosphere inside the Kelvin Hall.
Home favourite and captain of the Aviva GB & NI team, Jessica Ennis won the 60m in a time of 7.97 ahead of new British representative Tiffany Ofili, who was competing for the Commonwealth Select side. Current IAAF World Indoor Champion Lolo Jones was left trailing back in fourth.
Ennis was in no doubt about the role the home crowd played for the GB & NI athletes. She said: “I love competing in Glasgow, the crowd really gets behind you and it is a quick track. To come here and perform the way I did in front of a crowd like this and come away with a smile is very satisfying. The atmosphere was brilliant and the crown really got behind us.”
The world’s fastest hurdler, American star David Oliver, romped to victory in the 60m hurdles in a season’s best time of 7.51, ahead of Nottingham’s Andy Turner. Afterwards Oliver couldn’t speak highly enough about his experience of Glasgow and the Kelvin Hall.
He said: “I love this competition and I love the fans here. It’s important for me to represent here and I am just delighted to be in Glasgow. This is my fourth year competing at Glasgow and I’m pleased I got such a positive start to the season.”
After winning the 800m in 2:01.17 Sheffield’s Jenny Meadows said: “Glasgow is really nice and the crowd is always really knowledgeable and appreciative. I just can’t wait for the next few weeks now.”
The Aviva International Match is delivered in partnership between UKA and Glasgow Life on behalf of Glasgow City Council, with support from EventScotland. Civic leaders were delighted with the event.
The Deputy Leader of Glasgow City Council and the Executive Member for the Commonwealth Games, Councillor Archie Graham, said: “It was great to hear so many athletes speak so positively about their experience of Glasgow and we look forward to welcoming them again back to the city in the future.
“As a city we are rightly regarded as a world leader when it comes to sport and yesterday’s Aviva International Match further enhanced that reputation. It is essential that we continue to deliver events of the highest quality as we build towards the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games when the eyes of the world will be on us.”
Chair of Glasgow Life, Councillor George Redmond, said: “The Kelvin Hall has witnessed some truly world-class performances through the years and yesterday was no different. From several season’s bests to a new stadium record it was day to remember and one that was witnessed by a sell-out crowd.
“Glasgow is rightly regarded as one of the world’s top sporting cities and we once again put on a show that everyone can be proud of.”
Paul Bush OBE, Chief Operating Officer for EventScotland, the national events agency said: “The atmosphere in Kelvin Hall International Sports Arena yesterday was a reflection of the appetite for world class athletics events in Glasgow and Scotland. It was the perfect stage for some of the worlds’ best athletes to compete in front of an enthusiastic crowd and the large TV audience the event also reached.”