I Had A Golden Time At This Athletics Event In Yokohama


Athletics in my home country of the UK was very much in its golden period when I was growing up in the 1980s, and it was popular on TV at a time when many different sports got fairly equal coverage. I would often watch it and many of the athletes were household names. Not only that but I’d also do many of the track and field events both in and out of school.

As we moved into the mid 90s though, and the sporting TV landscape began to change, I gradually saw less and less. Nowadays the only track and field action I see is at the Olympics. However, with the World Athletics Championships coming to Tokyo in 2025 I am hoping to get tickets for some of that which will go some way in making up for the disappointment of not being able to get any tickets for the athletics at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics which took place (without any fans in attendance) in 2021 due to the global pandemic.

This year has been about trying to watch some live sports I’ve never seen before. So far I’ve been to watch volleyball, table tennis, futsal, american football for the first time, and so when a student mentioned his interest in athletics back in April I probed him about any upcoming events. He mentioned this Golden Grand Prix so so I promptly picked up a pair of tickets for under 2000 yen each from a convenience store.

My colleague Tim was the benefactor on this occasion, and having met him outside with ease due to the absence of crowds we immediately went inside the 80,000 seater stadium. For this World Athletics Continental Tour, only the lower tier was open to the public though.


On an afternoon of blazing sunshine the only seats left for us were directly in the sun. Fortunately we had both applied suncream at home before heading to Yokohama but that can only do so much, and after baking for about half an hour we decided to move to the shade directly in front of the High Jump as our tickets did allow us to sit anywhere in about 60% of the stadium.

This Golden Grand Prix Athletics event first took place in 2011 and is a tournament with high points awarded by the World Athletics Federation which is supposedly important in  gaining qualification for this years World Athletics Championship in Budapest. The majority of the athletes competing last Sunday were Japanese but other countries were represented too including a few Americans, Aussies and New Zealanders.

The afternoon schedule consisted of 17 disciplines, beginning with long jump, javelin and the aforementioned high jump and it was a little difficult to focus when multiple activities were happening at the same time. After about 90 mimutes of that it was finally time for some track action with the mens 100 metre heats (which we couldn’t see too well) followed by the 400 metres hurdles.


The womens 1500 metres race was next but for some reason I thought it was the 3000 metres which meant that I didn’t realise the race was on the home straight when it was! I just thought the winner Tanaka was stepping up the pace very early!!

The most exciting part of the steeplechase is the water jump and we were positioned in a good location for that spectacle.


It was great to see the athletes up close, especially in the long jump which was going on throughout the afternoon right in front of the main stand.

The 100 metres finals were next so we moved round to see that from the best angle possible for us. That was looking directly behind the racers which provided a great view although it was difficult to see who was in the lead! New Zealander Hobbs sure was the fastest!


The mens final soon followed and there were two false starts (but no disqualifications!) before the star man Fred Kerley crushed the field, despite a fairly poor start, with a time that was under ten seconds. He won 100 metres gold at the last World Athletics Championships so his participation in Tokyo seemed like something of a big deal.


A lot of people actually left after that, and I have to admit that I had considered it too. If it had been the 5000 or 10,000 metres race then I may well have departed but as it was only 3000 it would be over well within ten minutes.

The womens 3000 metre race was the finale and it proved to be quite exciting not that I can tell you who won!


What was interesting about being in the stadium for athletics was that, in a way, you do get to see far more than what you get to view on TV where the director chooses what you see. Whilst this wasn’t the most prestiguous of athletics meets on the calendar it did whet my appetite for hopefully seeing more in a couple of years time.

Bonus: Just six weeks prior to the athletics, I was at Nissan Stadium for its more regular use as the home of Yokohama F. Marinos. It was the Yokohama Derby on a rainy Saturday evening and the reigning champions romped to a 5-0 victory with all the goals coming in the second half.

Click here to read ‘Jumping On The Baseball Bandwagon In Japan (& Then Jumping Right Off It Again!)’

Click here to read ‘My First Table Tennis Match Was The Women’s Title Decider & It Was Epic!’

Click here to read ‘Watching Volleyball In Japan Has To Be One Of The Country’s Noisiest Experience’

Click here to read ‘Witnessing An Historic Upset In The 102nd Emperor’s Cup Final’

About tokyofox

A Leicester City fan teaching English in Japan
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