With one month to go until the Müller Birmingham Diamond League (21 May), British athletics greats Iwan Thomas and Marilyn Okoro were back at the Alexander Stadium in the West Midlands to get a first glimpse at the stunning, revamped venue as it prepares to welcome the world’s best athletes next month.
Thomas, whose 400m UK record set at the stadium 25 years ago still stands today, and Okoro who won UK Championship titles at the venue during a glittering career, were given a tour of the facility which will also host The Müller Birmingham Diamond League on Saturday 21 May.
The Wanda Diamond League event, which will also host the athletics programme at this summer’s Commonwealth Games, will be the first time that fans and athletes alike will get to experience the new venue and will kick off a huge summer of sport in the Midlands.
Fans will get the chance to see come of the world’s best battle it out on the new track next month with Britain’s Olympic medallists Keely Hodgkinson, Holly Bradshaw and Josh Kerr already among those announced for the event.
With world champion Dina Asher-Smith, Olympic 200m champion Andre de Grasse (CAN), and pole vault Olympic champion Katie Nageotte (USA) already signed-up to the Diamond League meeting, with many more names due to be announced as we countdown to the event, it is event not to be missed.
The event last took place in Birmingham in 2019 but since then the Alexander Stadium has been transformed as part of a £72 million redevelopment programme including a new West Stand, a 9-lane running track, and warm up track. The stadium will host the second event of the prestigious Wanda Diamond League calendar for 2022 which kicks-off in Doha on 13 May.
Thomas clocked 44.36 seconds over 400m at the stadium back in 1997 at the British Championships with a field that included Mark Richardson, Roger Black and Jamie Baulch. The quartet famously won Olympic silver a year earlier in the 4×400 relay at the Atlanta Games.
Visiting the revamped venue for the first time, Thomas said: “I loved competing here in Birmingham. I live at the other end of the country, but it’s always felt like the home of athletics for me, so to see the new stadium in the flesh for the first time is amazing.
“The track and the facilities are world class and I think it’s going to be a very special place for the current and future generations of athletes. Birmingham should be really proud of it. As the first big event at the new stadium, The Müller Birmingham Diamond League here is going to be massive and the athletes are going to love competing here and in front of a big Birmingham crowd.”
Okoro, now a UK Athletics board member after retiring at the start of 2021, added:
“These are world class facilities – they’ve just thought of everything. Everyone’s going to love performing in the stadium. The spectators will have a phenomenal view wherever they sit, I’m just so excited. The only thing is, I regret retiring a little too early!
“I have some really fun memories here, it’s really a home away from home. I’m very nostalgic. I really encourage everyone to grab tickets, get involved, and get yourself here because I think it’s just going be something phenomenal – for both the performance side but also the community and the legacy. We want to make this the home of athletics.”
Tickets for event on Saturday May 21st are available now: BUY HERE