RUNNER Matt Dean holds the lucky honour of being among a select few to cross the finish line in the Olympic Stadium – months before any elite athletes will.
The 39-year-old employment advisor from Southsea crossed the line in just 37 minutes, 27 seconds, finishing 976th in the five-mile run.
The run took in views around the Olympic park, including landmarks such as the Velodrome and Aquatics Center, finishing in the Olympic Stadium.
‘Running the last 300m into the stadium through the athlete’s entrance, into the daylight and seeing 12,000 people really raised the hairs on the back of my neck,’ he said.
‘Coming onto the final straight I couldn’t help but try to sprint – I wasn’t exactly Usain Bolt as I was charging down the straight.
‘Hearing the roar of the crowd just made me think of the history that is going to be made this summer. It was something special, especially with my wife there supporting me – although I couldn’t see her!
‘They were still working on the stadium – quite a few of the builders put down their tools to clap us. They were just doing the finishing touches – it looked so impressive.’
As he and his fellow competition winners warmed up, the spectators were entertained by Flawless, Escala and a Queen tribute act.
Dean, a seasoned runner, has competed before in Portsmouth’s own Great South Run.
Although only five miles, it is this Olympic race that he is really proud of – not least because he beat Princess Beatrice.
He said: ‘I got a medal that is inscribed on the back saying that I was one of the first 5,000 to run on the track.
‘It’s much more important to me than my other medals.
‘Whatever is on that track this summer I can say I’ve been there, I was one of the first to do that.
‘I feel so proud and lucky too, it was a friend who told me about it – she didn’t get picked so it’s a bit bitter-sweet for her when I see her.
‘I was lucky to be one of the chosen few.’
The race was held on Saturday in London, with 5,000 runners taking part.
The lucky few were selected from 43,000 national competition entrants.
Princess Beatrice was the only royal present among former Olympians and Paralympians and other celebrities.
The race marked the National Lottery’s £2.2bn contribution to the funding of both the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.