Kinney first over the line

04 May 2012 / 18:40

The time was nothing to write home about, but the experience itself was priceless.

Becoming the first athlete to win a race in the Olympic Stadium on Friday night was not an honour that fell to the likes of Usain Bolt, Mo Farah or Jessica Ennis, but to a psychology student at the University of Loughborough.

Nine athletes lined up in the first heat of the women's 400 metres hurdles at the British Universities and Colleges Sport (BUCS) championships, also doubling as the test event for the London Olympics.

And it was 24-year-old Justine Kinney who became the answer to a pub quiz question of the future, winning in a time of 59.79 seconds despite easing down before the line and almost being caught by Emma Peters.

On a cold and overcast evening, it was no surprise that time was more than two and a half seconds slower than her personal best, but Kinney - who is studying for a Masters in psychology - was well aware of the greater significance of the occasion.

"I know I should probably have eased up a little bit more, but because it was the first race on the track I really wanted to win it," she said, also becoming the first athlete to test out the mixed zone where athletes will speak to reporters after their Olympic dreams are achieved or dashed.

"It's probably not going to bode well for tomorrow, but I really wanted to go for it and it was so quick. The track feels amazing. It feels like you could fly down it, it feels wonderful.

"I'm so privileged to run here, I've been looking forward to this so much. Normally BUCS is a bit of an opening to the season, good championship practice, but this year it feels like a major championship in itself because we're here.

"All I wanted to do was get here in and be in good shape and really get in medal contention, because the feeling of running down that home straight then, even though it was a heat of BUCS, feels amazing, absolutely brilliant."

Despite 'only' being student athletes, the competitors were going through the same processes as will be used come Games time in July and August. That meant a 45-minute call-up period, full escort onto the track and being led through an empty broadcast interview area after their race.