TODAY marks the start of the athletics and I can’t wait. This week has highlighted that Team GB are under real pressure to perform and achieve. Before these Olympics there was a lot of hype about winning medals here and there, but maybe the bar was set a bit too high. It’s going to take quite a character to be able to deliver in front of a home crowd when it matters.
Because of that I think we might see some track and field athletes come through when they weren’t expected to. I’ve said all along that if a Team GB athlete can get into a final then anything can happen. I’d love to see the likes of Mo Farah, Jess Ennis and Dai Green win but I think that the last week has proven it’s not going to be easy.
Leading into Barcelona in 1992, the expectancy on me was to medal but I don’t think anyone predicted that I would get gold. It was a nice situation because I always knew that I could win but only had to deal with pressure I put on myself rather than from a whole nation.
Twenty years on and I really think that the likes of 400m hurdler Perri Shakes-Drayton, who hasn’t had to deal with that extra pressure until recently, has a real chance. The Russian Irina Davydova is the only of Perri’s rivals who takes some relatively good form into this weekend but the rest of the field don’t look at the same level. If she gets a medal that’s great, but I think she has to believe she can achieve bigger.
I also think that someone like Robbie Grabarz in the high jump could be one to watch. Robbie’s a confident guy and if he gets into his rhythm and feeds off of the crowd then I think he could be one of those athletes who has escaped all the pre-Olympic hype to win a medal.
Sally Gunnell’s exclusive column comes courtesy of Japanese sportswear brand Mizuno. Sally will be meeting the public on Tuesday 7 August, 2pm-5pm, at the Mizuno Performance Centre, Centre Point, New Oxford Street. Visit www.mizunoseiei.com for more details.