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Christine Ohuruogu, Jenny Meadows, Holly Bleasdale, MLF

29 July 2011

One year out from the London Olympic Games, reigning 400m champion Christine Ohuruogu today urged sports fans from around the country to descend on Birmingham this weekend for a preview of the athletics action that’s in store over the next 12 months at the Aviva UK Trials and Championships.

Ohuruogu, who will compete in the 400m at Birmingham Alexander Stadium this weekend, comes into the event on the back of an outstanding comeback race in Barcelona last week in which she ran a World Championship qualifying time of 51.49secs.

The 27-year-old, who lives a stone’s throw from London’s Olympic Park, has this weekend set her sights on reclaiming the national title she last won in 2009 and cementing her place in the Aviva Great Britain and Northern Ireland team bound for the World Championships in Daegu in August.

She said: “Everybody’s here this weekend – there are some great head-to-heads. Everyone in the 400m is there and it’ll be nice to welcome Shana [Cox] to the Trials.

“It really is going to be the strongest line-up in years, and what’s most important, it’ll be a good few days for everyone concerned.

“I'm hoping that people will be buying tickets and coming up here. It’s only an hour and a half from London on the train, so people from the capital can watch some athletics now before we race in London.

“On the track it’s been a very long year for me so I'm just glad to be back and fit and I'm really raring to race on home soil.

“I'm looking to qualify for the Worlds first and foremost. I know I set the qualifying time out in Barcelona but I'm keen to build on that by recording a really good time and cementing myself in the side.

“The weather’s due to be really good and when it’s all over, there’s the Bull Ring shopping centre just around the corner.”

And with now less than one year to go until the Games, Ohuruogu believes athletics in the UK is going from strength to strength.

She added: “Having the Olympics in England is great for me, it’s great for my borough, it’s great for London and it’s great for the UK. I’ve been fortunate enough to have been to two Olympic Games and to have something of that splendour in my back garden is something that I could never imagine happening.

“To compete in Stratford in an Olympics is something I never could have dreamed of and I will be so proud when it comes around. It will be such a fantastic time for everyone to enjoy sport and the whole country will put on a really good show.”
Joining Ohuruogu in this week’s Trials is World Championships bronze medallist Jenny Meadows.

Britain’s number one ranked 800m runner and the reigning European silver medallist in the discipline will line up at Birmingham Alexander Stadium just three weeks after testing herself with a new set of tactics in her victorious run at the Aviva Birmingham Grand Prix.

“These Trials are really big for me,” said Meadows. “I've won the indoor Trials six or seven times, but have never managed to win it outdoors yet. I'm definitely here to win the title, I feel in really good shape and I definitely feel my 2011 season starts from here.

“Since my tactical race here at the Aviva Birmingham Grand Prix – which I really didn’t enjoy – I've done some great training sessions and I feel I'm coming towards something fantastic.

“I'm just looking forward to displaying the same sort of shape I've been producing in training and taking the title.

“The [World Championships] bronze medal two years ago was a big surprise. I'm such a better athlete than I was back then and I look back and can’t believe it. I think the mental edge to my performance has improved and that’s a big factor. More people have been aware of me so it’s been learning to deal with that.

“It’s a very exciting year for the women’s 800m. There no dominant number one – everything keeps chopping and changing. But there’s some new up-and-coming girls coming onto the scene and it’ll be difficult to even make the final in Daegu.

“I'm not even ranked in the world’s top 20 on times this year, but I know I'm better than that and I've got a good time within me. But it’s really exciting and I can’t wait to get the ball rolling.”

Fresh from her success at the European Under 23 Championships in Ostrava, Holly Bleasdale is keen to kick-start her push for a World medal in Daegu with a strong performance in the West Midlands.

She said: “I was really just concentrating on the European Under 23s. I went there, did the job and got the gold, which I was really happy with, even though I would have liked to have jumped a little higher.

“I went there for the gold and that’s what I did. It’s important I perform at the Trials as it’ll give me something to look forward to – the World Championships – which will be the biggest competition of my life. I need to go out on Sunday and win to secure my trip to Daegu, and when that happens, I’ll be really happy.”

And European and Commonwealth silver medallist Mark Lewis-Francis is confident of his chances of taking the national title after kick-starting his injury-disturbed season with a promising showing at the Aviva Birmingham Grand Prix earlier this month.

He said: “I raced here a few weeks ago at the Aviva Birmingham Grand Prix and it was kind of a good note. I've struggled this season a bit with injury so it was good to run 10.23secs after what I've been through. Things are looking really good for the Trials.”

Long jump duo Chris Tomlinson and Greg Rutherford will not compete at the Aviva UK Trials and Championships this weekend after both suffered injuries in training.

The Aviva UK Trials and Championships will be held at Birmingham Alexander Stadium from 29-31 July. For tickets or more information click here or phone 08000 556 056.