WITH the countdown to next summer’s London Olympics well under way and the nation rapidly warming to the prospect of staging an event of such global importance, one of Britain’s greatest multi-eventers is resisting the temptation to let her mind wander.
Kelly Sotherton, 34, a former Olympic bronze medallist, has never been one for toeing the party line during the course of a career that has known as much triumph as it has heartache.
Before London had even secured the right to stage the 2012 Games, Sotherton (right) feared the Olympic site would become a white elephant, while four years ago at the world championships in Osaka she had no qualms about branding her rival Lyudmila Blonska a “cheat”.
On this occasion, however, Sotherton’s attempts to swerve the justifiable pre-Olympic hype are not designed be controversial, but stem from a fear that injury and loss of form could see her miss out on qualification altogether.
“I let the media and the general public get excited because that’s what it’s all about really. I’m sure a lot of the athletes just want to get their heads down and forget about it until next winter,” she told City A.M.
“I think the experience helps when it comes to not getting sidetracked. You have to keep a level head and keep everything in check.
“For me it’s way too soon to get excited and I don’t know if I’m actually going to be there. I’ve got to qualify.
“I know I’m not in a position to crow about going. I’m nowhere near good enough to be going at the moment.”
Sotherton, whose career has been regularly been disrupted by injury, is no longer able to compete in the heptathlon and her hopes of competing in London next year, and indeed at the world championships later this month, rest on whether she can meet the qualifying standard for the 400m.
While many athletes are already eulogising about the futuristic, multi-million pound venues they are likely to be competing in next summer, Sotherton is yet to visit the Olympic site.
“I haven’t actually been to the Olympic site yet. I’ve seen bits and pieces on TV but I haven’t given it my full attention really,” she said after being photographed by Fergus Greer as part of a campaign for Heart Research UK and AlfaRomeo.
“I don’t want to go to the site until I go there for the first time as an athlete. I’d like to keep that special.
“I know I can get there and have the ability to be there. It is going to be ultra competitive but I wouldn’t expect it to be any other way. It’ll give me a bigger push to run well.”
Alfa Romeo, official car supplier to UK Athletics (UKA), will donate £100 to Heart Research UK for every red Alfa MiTo sold in the month of August. Visit www.facebook.com/AlfaRomeoUK to view the full photo gallery.
CV | KELLY SOTHERTON
1976: Born in Newport
1997: Won three gold medals at the Island Games in Jersey.
2004: Won bronze in the Heptathlon at the Athens Olympics.
2005: Won silver in the European Indoor Championships in the Pentathlon.
2006: Won gold in the Heptathlon at the Commonwealth Games
2007: Claimed bronze in the Heptathlon at the World Championships in Osaka.
2008: Took silver at the World Indoor Championships.