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IAAF World Indoor Championships

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6 March 2008

 

The Norwich Union Great Britain & Northern Ireland team continues its preparations for Olympic glory this weekend at the 12th IAAF World Indoor Championships.

 

A strong squad of 31 athletes will take on the world’s best from more than 120 countries in Valencia, Spain, in what promises to be a thrilling three days of competition.

 

Many of GB&NI’s leading athletes are competing between 7-9 March and the team has a host of medal chances.

 

Leading the charge for the podium is Olympic and World Championship Heptathlon bronze medallist Kelly Sotherton (Birchfield Harriers), who competes in the five-event Pentahlon on Day 1.

 

Sotherton has been in impressive form indoors in 2008 and with Sweden’s Carolina Kluft not in Valencia she is favourite to take gold from the likes of Lithuania’s Austra Skujyte and Lyudmyla Blonska from the Ukraine.

 

Marilyn Okoro (Shaftesbury Barnet) and Jenny Meadows (Wigan AC) are a strong pair in the women’s 800m and will both be aiming to prove themselves on the world stage over three rounds in three days.

 

Britain’s strength in depth in women’s middle distance and endurance events is further proved with Susan Scott (City of Glasgow) and Jemma Simpson (Newquay & Par) in the 1500m and Helen Clitheroe (Preston) and Lisa Dobriskey (Ashford AC) running in the 3000m.

 

In the men’s events, the Norwich Union GB&NI team is also strong in a number of events.

 

Triple jumper Phillips Idowu (Belgrave Harriers), the reigning European Indoor Champion, will continue his top form as he takes on the five leading jumpers in the world this year.

 

Idowu has gone further than 17m three times in 2008, with a season’s best of 17.21m. With his hair dyed red for the occasion, he will be up against world outdoor champion Nelson Evora from Portugal who has jumped 17.33m this winter.

 

In the long jump, Chris Tomlinson (Newham & Essex Beagles) is a strong medal hope after breaking his own national record earlier this year with a leap of 8.18m. Tomlinson has won three of his four starts in 2008 and with world number one Irving Saladino out through injury he is one of the favourites to take gold.

 

Mo Farah (Newham & Essex Beagles) faces tough competition in a quality 3000m, featuring Ethiopia’s Kenenisa Bekele and Australia’s Craig Mottram.

 

The men’s 60m has an open field with as many as six or seven athletes lining up with a chance of claiming a medal. America’s Mike Rodgers may start as favourite but there could be stiff opposition from the likes of the consistent Nigerian Olusoji Fasuba. GB&NI’s Simeon Williamson (Highgate Harriers) and Dwain Chambers (Belgrave Harriers) are also pushing for medal contention.

 

See UK Athletics website for daily reports and watch all the action on BBC Interactive throughout the weekend.