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UK Athletics

Meadows and Okoro looking to reignite British middle distance supremacy

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03 January 2011

British 800m rivals Jenny Meadows and Marilyn Okoro are ready to kick-start their 2011 Aviva Series campaign at the Aviva International Match later this month and hope to further the middle distance supremacy which was set in 2010.

The contest, which will take place at Glasgow’s Kelvin Hall ISA on 29 January, is the first event on their 20 month pathway to the London 2012 Olympic Games.

Meadows comes into Glasgow on the back of a memorable 2010 season, which saw her add a European bronze and World Indoor silver  to the bronze medal she achieved at the World Championships in Berlin the year before.

And she is desperate to help the Aviva GB & NI team secure a second successive victory against teams representing USA, Sweden, Germany and a Commonwealth select

But the 29-year-old admits the nerves are already starting ahead of the contest, but she is certain the residents of Glasgow will cheer her and her Aviva GB & NI teammates on to another Aviva International Match victory.

 She said: “I have a mixture of emotions ahead of the Aviva International Match as the crowd are fantastic and obviously after winter training I’m excited to get out on track, but then at the same time I’m always terrified of that match. It’s an indication of how your winter’s gone so I really do hold it with significance.

“I always have lots of adrenaline when I’m competing in Glasgow, I’ve always competed well there so I’m really looking forward to it.

“Competing at Glasgow reminds me of my roots competing for your club when every point counts so you do know that if you’re predicted to come third and you can pull off a second, gaining that extra point is fantastic for the team.

“Athletics is an individual sport whereas the outcome at Glasgow is definitely a team effort so I do really look forward to that event. It’s great to be able to follow your team mates and give them support, we’ve had some really good success over the past two years so I’m hopeful that we can do the same again.”

And equally excited about the match-up is Okoro who, having missed a majority of the 2010 season through injury, will turn out for the Commonwealth select team.

The Shaftesbury Barnett runner last competed in Glasgow in 2009, where she got the better of Meadows and finished ahead of Meadows the ‘pocket rocket’ in first place.

And Okoro believes that the renewed competition with her long term 800m rival can launch them both to success in 2011 and moreover, provide the fuel to fire them to Olympic glory the following summer.

Okoro said: “I’m excited about competing at the Aviva International Match in Glasgow, I last competed there in 2009 and I just really enjoy being part of a team and having that extra bit of support behind me. I’ll be joining the commonwealth team this year, which will be great as I get to mix with a whole group of athletes that I’m normally competing against.

“Obviously I’ll be up against Jenny [Meadows], she is doing so well at the moment, she’s really on form and to run a race like that right at the beginning of the year should kick start my 2011.

“I’ve been training hard in the off-season to ensure that I’m prepared for 2011, I’ve actually been joining in with the long distance guys at the UKA Endurance camp in Kenya, which has been different but has really mixed up my preparation so it’s been great and I’m feeling really positive for next year.

“As soon as we turn the corner in to 2011, the Olympics seem so close so I think everyone will be well in to their planned training for that. Every result will be substantial and everyone will really be pushing themselves to be getting the best finishes possible.”

Fresh off the back of Glasgow, athletics fans will not have to wait long to see the explosive duo in action again, as they both take the track just a few weeks later at the Aviva Grand Prix at the NIA on 19 February.

And Meadows says that come that meet Birmingham both athletes will be full of confidence and prepared for their assault at the World Championships in Daegu in the summer.

Meadows added: “Hopefully by the Aviva Grand Prix I will be in very good shape, I will have done quite a few competitions and it will be the last race prior to the European [Indoor] Championships so that race always holds huge significance for me. Obviously in 2010 it was fantastic to break the British record in Birmingham and to do it on home soil in front of such a fantastic crowd and I’m hoping that I can deliver more of the same in 2011.

“I know the British record that I set at the World Championships in Doha [1:58.43] might be a little bit beyond my expectations at Birmingham but never say never.

“The Aviva Grand Prix is one of the best meetings in the world, definitely during the indoor season, and I expect to face some tough opposition there and I’m also hoping to show that I can do something great ahead of the European Championships.”

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