1948 Olympic hurdler sees grandson race in 2012 venue
A HURDLER from the 1948 Olympics squad has seen her grandson become one of the first to compete in the London 2012 stadium.
Frances Mann, now 85, just missed out on running in the games, held shortly after the Second World War.
And, with the rush for tickets to this year's Olympics, it looked like she would again fall short of getting to the stadium.
But her daughter Clare Crowther, of Stockbridge Park, Elloughton, organised tickets for last weekend's British Universities and Colleges Sport competition.
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It was part of the London Prepares events, which are dress- rehearsals for the Olympics.
Mrs Mann's grandson, 19-year-old Martin Lay, was competing in three events.
Mrs Crowther said: "The best bit for me was sitting in the Olympic Stadium and imagining what it will be like.
"It was a dress-rehearsal for the real thing, so everything was in place.
"They had the commentators practising to make sure everything works and the girls who bring the blocks out for the start of the events."
Martin, 19, who was competing for Newcastle University, ran seventh in his hurdles heat but failed to complete a jump in the high jump or pole vault.
Even so, he was still among the first to experience facilities that will be graced by athletes such as Usain Bolt, one of his heroes.
Pictures from the day are on his Facebook page. And, if ever he is asked in a job interview to relate an unusual achievement, he plans to tell the story of his experience at the London 2012 Olympic Stadium.
He said: "The pole vault was the third field event ever in the stadium.
"I can say it's a very good facility and the track's amazing.
"I think it will be my claim to fame."
His grandmother attended Olympic training camp before the 1948 Games but was at work on the day of the race after missing out on selection.
Her team mates experienced very different conditions to those at the modern arena.
Athletes had to bring their own food and there was no Olympic Village.
Male athletes were housed at an Army camp in Uxbridge and women in dormitories at Southlands College.
Sixty four years later, Mrs Mann, nee Wallis, was delighted to watch her grandson compete in the new facilities.
She said: "I wasn't sure about being able to get to the Olympics.
"But to see Martin in the Olympic Stadium, you can't get better than that."
Mrs Crowther, who was heading to the south coast from East Yorkshire yesterday to see the arrival of the Olympic Torch, said: "When we went to the stadium, everything was as it will be for the Olympics.
"There was security on the gate and we had to empty our bags.
"And the scoreboard was the actual one they will use. We saw Martin's name go up on it.
"We went for a walk around the Olympic Park and we went to see the hockey stadium where there was a game on between the UK and India.
"We could see the athletes' village.
"That's still being completed but we saw the walkway they will use to get down to the stadium."