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UK Athletics

Aviva GB & NI at World Indoors

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Jessica Ennis


08 March 2012

As the UK wakes up first thing on Friday morning, the Aviva GB & NI team will be making final preparations ahead of the 14th IAAF World Indoor Championships in Istanbul, Turkey.

The 32-strong squad, set to compete in the Atakoy Athletics Arena this weekend, boasts a blend of youth and experience, including two reigning indoor world champions: Jessica Ennis (coach: Toni Minichiello) and Dwain Chambers (self coached).

Head Coach Charles van Commenee has opted not to set a medal target for this event, but admits this strong Aviva GB & NI team can realistically challenge for a number of podium finishes and final appearances.

“We are here at the World Championships - it is an event we take very seriously, but it is not one the many athletes will peak for because it’s not the only event of the year,” he said.

“We have selected a very strong group of athletes. We haven't had any difficulties since selection and no injuries so we're all in good nick.”

One athlete who will be looking to continue her excellent start to 2012 and defend her pentathlon crown is Ennis. The Sheffield-born star is up against strong opposition on the opening day of the competition in the form of world gold medallist Tatyana Chernova and current Olympic champion Natalya Dobrynska.

And the 26-year-old is relishing the contest:

“Everyone likes to create a big rivalry but there a lot of girls out there. If I look at it in a different way it is great to have that level of competition as I know I can raise my game.

“I'm definitely in a better position than last year, obviously having pulled out of the European Indoors, but I've had some really good training. I want to have a great season but more than anything I want to be in the best possible shape going into London. If I'm in that position that's the most important thing in the world and I know I can go out there and compete.”

Mo Farah (Alberto Salazar) will be aiming to join the exclusive British club of athletes that have taken world champions status both indoor and outdoor, when he competes in the 3000m. Such a feat would rank him alongside the likes of Phillips Idowu, Jessica Ennis and Colin Jackson.

However, the reigning world 5000m champion acknowledges the tough task that lies ahead of him in Istanbul.

He said: “It’s a world championship here and that's never easy, but I'm going to go out and give it 100 per cent as normal and do the best I can.

“It's a great field, Bernard Lagat wants it more than anything else. I beat him in the 5000m and he's the world champion here and wants to defend his title. I think it's a great opportunity to race against him.

“I don't take anything for granted, the guys here are good and have been around so long.”

Meanwhile, hurdler Tiffany Porter (James Henry) has been confirmed as captain of the Aviva GB & NI team for the championships.

On the appointment, van Commenee was delighted Tiffany agreed to take the captain’s armband.

“She is well respected among the team members and has the seniority to do it well and is seen as an authority in her field. She is very capable of fulfilling this role and I am happy that she has accepted the role,” he said.

The 24-year-old, who won a silver medal in the 60m hurdles at the European Indoor Championships in Paris last year, is aiming once again to stand on the rostrum:

“It’s a collective effort and we're looking to do well as a team. My goal is to go out here and do my very best and bring home a medal.”

Ahead of this weekend, Aviva is calling on the British public to get behind the Aviva GB & NI Team and publically #BackTheTeam. With only a few months left for athletes to prepare themselves ahead of the biggest sporting show this country has ever seen, the insurer wants to bring the nation together in support of the country’s athletes.

Fans will be able to prove their support via social media by quoting #BackTheTeam on Twitter. Aviva, lead sponsors of UK Athletics since 1999, hope to be able to create an online community that is passionately behind the Aviva GB & NI Team and inspires the country’s top athletes through messages of support, pictures and videos. 

A full Aviva GB & NI team media guide for Istanbul 2012 can be found here for download http://www.uka.org.uk/media/event-media-guides/

UKA will provide daily news reports from the 2012 World Championships on www.uka.org.uk and quotes from Aviva GB & NI athletes.

For full results visit: http://www.iaaf.org/Mini/WIC12/Results/ResultsByDate.aspx