High jump heroine Blanka Vlasic won her second world title in Berlin in 2009. With the future of the famous blue track under threat, the Croatian relives her Berlin Olympic Stadium memories.
I felt kind of sad when I read the news that the Berlin Olympic Stadium is in jeopardy. I have so many good memories from all the meets there – the Golden Leagues and especially my favourite, the world championships in 2009 where I won my second world title.
Actually that was one of my toughest competitions. I realised how difficult it is to defend a title – harder than to win it the first time.
And especially because I was jumping against a German girl, Ariane [Friedrich], she was the favourite of the crowd, and it was really, really intense. At the end of the competition only the high jump was still going on and all eyes were on us. You could cut the tension with a knife.
Those pictures are still so vivid in my mind. I remember how even though I was jumping against Ariane – and of course the crowd supported her – I remember that I didn’t feel like an outsider actually. I remember that the crowd was as supportive when I was jumping as they were supportive for when Ariane was jumping. That carried on all the way throughout the competition.
In the end, the crowd helped me a lot to win that medal, to feel relaxed and I really, really enjoyed that competition even though it was one of the hardest ones in my life.
So for me it would be very sad to see if that stadium didn’t exist anymore. I like the blue surface – it’s very special.
What is very specific for that stadium is that even though it’s big, it doesn’t feel like it. It feels really comfortable. You feel very close to the crowd, and it’s so beautiful from the outside with these old walls. I don’t know, it’s just when I remember that venue, automatically I am smiling. I guess that shows all positive emotions I have with the Berlin Olympic Stadium.
I respect football – you know my youngest brother is a football player, it’s his future. I enjoy watching football games, but track and field is my passion, is my love and of course my job. I would always give advantage to a good track and field competition over a football game. I’m sure I’m subjective when I say we have a lot of great football stadiums, but we don’t have as many great track and field stadiums in the world that are specific and that are anything like Berlin’s Olympic Stadium, so I think it would really be a shame to turn it into something else.
I think it should be there for as long as possible and if it comes to the point when no one uses it, at least it could be something like a monument. Some world records were broken there and that really means something.
It is an iconic venue and it tells a story for future generations and I think it’s very important to keep our sport alive.