THE BLOG

Why Athletics Transcends Ethnic Differences to Bring a Nation Together

01/09/2015 16:15 BST | Updated 31/08/2016 10:59 BST

With Britain's recent success at the World Athletics Championships in Beijing, achieving 4 golds, 1 silver and 2 bronzes, you cannot help but feel proud of the team's achievements, transcending ethnic differences for a cultural identity of inclusiveness and support for one another.

Just what is it about athletics that makes it such a unifying sport in Britain? What is it about the sport which brings the nation together?

The success of the 'Super Saturday Trio,' Mo Farah, Jess Ennis-Hill and Greg Rutherford, have all served to renew our appetite for the sport and echoed the sporting enthusiasm we had at the London 2012 Olympics; that we can be a force in athletics, just as we are in other sports.

This year, we have seen stand-out performances from a host of British athletes, with many such as Dina Asher-Smith and Shara Proctor producing new national records, as well as women's hammer thrower, Sophie Hitchon, beating her own national record to place 4th in the world. Nick Miller also became the first British male to make a world hammer final.

The men's and women's 4x400m relay teams have also shown up well with both teams winning bronze. Martyn Rooney's finish being particularly electrifying only just beating the Jamaican athlete, Javon Francis to the line, to run 44 seconds flat for his leg.

For me, what stood out about these championships, was the success of Rabah Yousif, an athlete born in Sudan, but acquired British citizenship as a young man, in the hope of providing a bigger platform for his athletic success.

Rabah Yousif has found a way to repay the country who welcomed him in, by being the sole British representative in the final of the men's 400m at these championships and producing a PB to make it there. Several days later, he helped the men's 4x400m relay team win a bronze, producing a blisteringly fast opening leg.

Yousif himself was an asylum seeker, looking to forge a better life in the UK. The son of a Sudanese national sprint champion, he has taken that athletic inspiration, transcended from his family, and has served up a treat for Great Britain, producing his finest displays when it matters. What is more to come from an athlete now relishing from the backing and trust that British athletics have given him?

Certainly this country has seen talent who have been born overseas, blossom in representing Britain, with Mo Farah being a prime example, born in Mogadishu, Somalia, he has thrived in representing the country that had the faith to back him and invest in his talent.

Mo Farah now has 7 global titles to his name, as well as a host of European titles, being world dominant in the 5,000 and 10,000m for 5 years in counting. He is Britain's finest ever distance runner, but only because his schoolteacher had faith in him to become a success. Without that investment in his sporting talent from an early age, he may not have achieved legendary status in the world of athletics.

Perhaps the defining moment of the games for me, was the sight of the men's and women's 4x400m relay teams embracing and congratulating each other on their success after their races. That's the image of a team in unity, a team of varying ethnicities coming together to celebrate British athletic achievement.