The Bear is on the Run: An Excited Berlin Welcome to Athletes from Around the World

August 14, 2009 By Uta Pippig
The Olympic Stadium in Berlin can seat more than 74,000 spectators. © www.PhotoRun.net

Dear Friends,

‘Berlino’—the beloved mascot of the World Championships 2009 in Berlin. © IAAF 2008 TM
‘Berlino’—the beloved mascot of the World Championships 2009 in Berlin. © IAAF 2008 TM

The Bear is on the Run!—or as visitors might hear the Berliners saying, “Da ist der Bär los.” That’s the phrase typically used when something exciting and worth celebrating is going on. So it is appropriate that the smiling mascot of the 12th World Track and Field Championships is Berlino, the running bear with the bib number 2009. A lot of anticipation is building for the opening of competition in Berlin on August 15. But you don’t have to be fluent in German to enjoy the thrilling atmosphere.

Today the popular German catchphrase also captures the inspiration of athletes, spectators, organizers and sponsors, and their hopes for this signature event of track and field. Maybe that is why Berlino, the beloved symbol of these championships, is sprinting with his green spikes on the blue surface of the stadium, where the competition starts with the 10,000-meter women’s final and the men’s shot put final—and finishes nine days later on August 23 with the women’s marathon and the 4x400m relay men’s and women’s finals.

All of us here at Take The Magic Step wish the athletes who compete in the World Championships good luck and the success they’ve trained so hard for. Let them have great weather conditions—cool summer evenings with no wind on the stadium track. For the spectators, we wish for more of the fantastic and breathtaking moments that the “Worlds” has become famous for. The majestic stadium, once the location for the historic Olympic Games of 1936, has been spectacularly renovated. The blue track will undoubtedly witness outstanding performances—and since Berliners are true track and field fans I can imagine that their awe and appreciation for every participant in the championships will be extra special during these nine days. I am thrilled to have the chance to travel to Berlin with all those thousands of fans from around the world and meet friends and former fellow athletes. I will have my fingers crossed right there in the stadium for each athlete who’s competing.

Kenenisa Bekele—the favorite for the men’s long distance competitions. © www.PhotoRun.net
Kenenisa Bekele—the favorite for the men’s long distance competitions. © www.PhotoRun.net

For the last few weeks, trials in countries around the globe have showcased stunning performances by promising talents—the athletes are prepared! I imagine that you might be as excited as I am about the upcoming celebrations of victories, great personal stories and outstanding “comeback” results. The first three in each event stand on the podium, but hard-fought fourth place finishes can be victories for the athlete who’s recorded a personal best, maybe even run through injury or exceeded the expectations of his or her countrymen.

The long distance events are shaping up to be particularly interesting: Kenenisa Bekele could make championship history and maybe win both the 5,000m and 10,000m. The long distance runners in the women’s field—Tirunesh Dibaba, Meseret Defar and Meselech Melkamu—may highlight once again the Ethiopian dominance in the 5,000m and 10,000m [Editor’s note: Tirunesh Dibaba did not compete in the 10,000m due to injury.], while the Russian World Record holder Gulnara Gualkina, unbeaten for the past two years in the 3,000m steeplechase, may defend against Yekaterina Volkova, who won in the 2008 Olympics.

The Ethopians Tirunesh Dibaba and Meserat Defar are dominant in the women’s long distance events. © www.PhotoRun.net
The Ethopians Tirunesh Dibaba and Meserat Defar are dominant in the women’s long distance events. © www.PhotoRun.net

We also remember those athletes who are unfortunately missing from this pinnacle of the sport. Perhaps they have suffered injuries they fought bravely against, but could not overcome. Or they have suffered personal problems that hindered their training. We wish every one of them a speedy recovery and success in the future.

Friends of track and field wait with excitement for the competition in events from the 100m dash to the marathon, from high jump to the decathlon. To honor the athletes, who have dedicated many months of hard training to be in top form, Take The Magic Step® will provide special coverage of the running events, from the 800 meters to the marathon, in the “Sports Stories” section of our Website.

I am delighted and thankful to introduce our experts for this year’s coverage as we did from the Olympic Games in Beijing last summer. Our Take The Magic Step team members Jörg Wenig, Andy Edwards, and Duncan Larkin, will report the highlights each day. Jörg is at the Olympic Stadium in Berlin and will be sending his updates to Duncan in the US and Andy in the UK. I also would like to thank our editorial Website team, who will help bring you the excitement and drama of the Championships.

Maybe the athletes’ winning attitude, their joy in success or their happiness in just being part of the World Championships, might inspire you to think about your own workout routine—maybe to run a bit more or to enjoy another favorite sport again. Perhaps you could set new goals like preparing for a 5K, or getting back on your bike, or picking up your goggles to go for a swim…

Thousands of runners from around the world will participate in the Berlin Marathon on September 20. © www.PhotoRun.net
Thousands of runners from around the world will participate in the Berlin Marathon on September 20. © www.PhotoRun.net

Some Berliners might be prompted to get out to the Grunewald—an expansive forest in Berlin, kept as the “Berliner Lungs” during the time of the partition of Germany—to add some extra miles in preparation for their own marathon. After all, the Berlin Marathon is just five weeks away and is one of the highlights of this year’s 20th anniversary celebration of the fall of the Berlin Wall.

We wish you good luck in your workouts and your training and we hope that you can enjoy a fun time watching the World Championships 2009. Wherever you are, maybe you can picture Berlino running in the stadium side by side with the finest athletes in track in field from around the world.

Wishing you all the best from Berlin!

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