Last night, 24 hours before events in the stadium, a Stockholm streetscape was the setting for the women's shot put for round 12 of the Diamond League. It reminded us that we love a dose of street athletics.
Free in '15
Organisers of the annual meet in Stockholm have been taking events out to the people since 2007, but this year was the first time since 2011 that they have revived the tradition. It comes on the back of a week of public displays of athleticism (the only type of PDA we can all enjoy) in the Kungstradgarden, which has included kids' races and appearances from 110m hurdles world champ David Oliver and last year's best female pole vaulter Fabiana Murer.
Stockholm isn't the only city to think outside the track. They've made something of a habit of such antics in Zurich, where Diamond League shot put comps have been held in the ticket office of the city's Main Station on multiple occasions. And this time last year, building works at London's Olympic Stadium forced the action out to the austere surrounds of Horse Guards Parade, bang in the throbbing heart of the British capital.
But until last night, all 2015 Diamond League events had been held in traditional track venues. Freedom at last!
Cleopatra comin' atcha at the 2014 Anniversary Games
We were big fans of the setting, which was like being inside a big Swedish chocolate box and just a stone's throw (shot, surely?!) from the Royal Swedish Opera.
The venue was also just 500m from Parliament House, where on 17th July 1912, following the closing ceremony of the Olympic Games in the Swedish capital, the International Amateur Athletic Federation was founded. That's some heritage.
What a day for it
The weather in Stockholm, perhaps inspired by the diluvial conditions athletes faced in London last Friday, took a turn for the wetter. Before the throwers took to the circle, we were able to marvel at the deft umbrellamanship on display from the fans who had braved the conditions
During the comp – between blasts of classic rock, Europop and sound effects that accompanied the release and landing of each shot – the spectators, who clearly knew a thing or two about the sport, provided a delicious dose of rhythmic clapping and met each effort with a round of Swedish cheers. Skål!
The shot putters are warming up - they need it as it has just started pouring down! The crowd came prepared, though. pic.twitter.com/3kkdIqinKJ— IAAF (@iaaforg) July 29, 2015
Better than Tinder
Not everyone watching even intended to be there. We bumped into Henrik (29, he didn't want to tell us his surname but that's quite alright), who had been on a Tinder date in a nearby cafe. The date had not gone to plan, but instead of heading straight back home, he “stumbled across this spectacle” and thought “even with the rain, this can't be worse than the date I was on, so I decided to watch and it was a great event.” That's the attitude we like to hear!
He admitted: “I don't know anything about athletics, maybe Usain Bolt. But I like what they did with the music and everything.”
More of the same, please!
World leader Christina Schwanitz said having the crowd so close helped her bag the win as she edged a step closer to claiming the overall 2015 Diamond Race title.
“Yes, it's really a lot better [to throw this close to the fans],” the German told us after. “The feeling is better and with the music I have more fun and it's all a little bit better than in the stadium.”
When asked whether she'd like to see city shot putting competitions in the Diamond League more regularly, she replied with a hearty laugh: “Yes, of course!”