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European Championships

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Jess Ennis


25 July 2010

With focussed minds, honed bodies, an appropriate level of Vitamin D and final preparations put to bed Britain’s top athletes this weekend begin to depart from the Aviva GB & NI preparation camp in Monte Gordo, Portugal to begin their campaign at the European Championships in Barcelona, Spain.

For the past ten days athletes have used the camp to prepare for the Championships, which begins on the 27 July, concluding six days later, and is located in the famous Olympic stadium which hosted the 1992 Olympic Games.

Training everyday in the heat of the Algarve the athletes have acclimatised to conditions expected in Barcelona and used the expertise of the UKA coaching and medical staff to fully prepare themselves for their European campaigns.

Seeing the men’s 100m relay squad completing drills on baton handling, Jessica Ennis taking time to perfect each of her seven disciplines, Barbara Parker getting to the track early for some tempo runs before the heat of the day and Carl Myerscough preparing with weight training, gives an excellent insight into the final stages of a year’s worth of work since the World Championships in Berlin last summer.

Not only making use of the world class facilities at the Vila Real track, which is also used by international football clubs during their pre season training, athletes have access to some of the best sports specific doctors, physiotherapists, strength and conditioning experts, chiropractors and soft tissue therapists in the business to fulfil their needs after a tough session. 

All in all the camp is the perfect place to prepare for what is tipped to be a successful championships for the Aviva GB & NI team.

There is no denying the absence of athletes such as Goldie Sayers, Christine Ohuruogu and Greg Rutherford affect the team’s performance statistics but, with potential winners in the form of Dwain Chambers (100m), Dai Greene (400m hurdles), Phillips Idowu (triple jump) Lisa Dobriskey (1500m), Jessica Ennis (Heptathlon), Mo Farah (5000m/ 10,000m) and a host of other athletes with the talent to reach the podium, the feeling in the camp is a positive one.

The mood in the camp was further enhanced by the team talk, which has become a valued tradition since Charles van Commenee took charge of the team in early 2009. The team were treated to a video montage of the 1992 Olympics and speeches from team captain Jessica Ennis and also Linford Christie – attending as a personal coach to the likes of Laura Turner, Conrad Williams and Mark Lewsi Francis - who won 100m gold at the venue 18 years ago.

Ennis regaled her experiences from the past few years, including the injury which prevented her from competing at the 2008 Olympics. Christie read out two poems, one penned by himself about the 100m final in 1992 and another called Desiderata by Max Ehrmann which includes the lines:  “go placidly amid the noise and haste.”

Good advice, especially for those new to senior international competition like debutant and former World Junior representative Nathan Woodward (400m hurdles) who will no doubt take away huge amount of experience from the team and his event teammates Rhys Williams – who won bronze at the championships four years ago -  and Dai Greene.

Talented young sprinter James Dasaolu (100m), who is hotly tipped for 2012 fame, also gains his first senior vest and lines up alongside medal hope Chambers, who holds World and European Indoor titles and is itching to add an outdoor gold. Hannah England (1500m), who has competed for GB&NI before in her senior career but missed out on major championships selection due to the superlative depth of the women’s middle distances in the UK, now gets the chance to stretch her legs against the best in Europe.

Others flying into Barcelona following a longer camp in the French Pyrenees include Jemma Simpson (800m), Chris Thompson (5000m/ 10,000m), Farah, Jo Jackson (20k walk) and the marathon squad. Using the 18000m altitude in Font Romeu the endurance athletes trained in a picturesque setting for a longer period before descending to Spain ready to take on Europe.

UKA will provide daily news reports from the Championships on www.uka.org.uk as well as behind the scenes highlights and info on http://www.facebook.com/UKAofficial and http://twitter.com/UKA_athletics

For full results visit: http://www.european-athletics.org/barcelona2010/european-athletics

GB&NI athletes competing at the European Championships will also take to the track at the Aviva London Grand Prix on 13-14 August. For tickets visit: http://www.diamondleague-london.com/Home/