25th August 2011

Aviva GB & NI Ready For Worlds


25 August 2011

With 11 days having passed since the Aviva Great Britain & Northern Ireland team left UK shores, athletes have been acclimatising to life in the Far East at the Aviva preparation camp in Ulsan, South Korea ahead of the 13th IAAF World Championships in Daegu, South Korea.

Using the first class facilities to prepare for the biggest athletics event of the year, the team led by Head Coach Charles van Commenee are well prepared for the championships which begin on Saturday 27 August, concluding eight days later on Sunday 4 September.

The squad, under the watchful eye of experienced UKA coaches and medical staff, have adjusted to the humid and damp conditions in eastern Asia and go into the show piece occasion in good spirits, led by team captain Christian Malcolm (coach: Dan Pfaff).

The Aviva GB & NI team’s arrival in Ulsan caused mass excitement amongst the locals in South Korea’s seventh largest metropolis. Union flags have been a prominent sight throughout the industrial city which is home to the thriving local car manufacturing industry and around 8,000 people from the locality are expected to travel to Daegu to support the team.

Prior to the team departing for Daegu, van Commenee and Malcolm addressed the team on the eve of the first group of athletes leaving the preparation camp for the athlete’s village. Both gave inspiring words of wisdom with the word belief being a focal part of each speech. The evening began with special recognition for Marlon Devonish (Dan Pfaff) who will make history with a record eighth appearance for GB & NI at a World Championship.

“It’s very special,” said Devonish. “I’m honoured. It’s nice to be recognised for my achievements. I first started athletics when I was 16 and I didn’t think when I would be 35 that I would be in Daegu with eight World Championship attendances.

“I’m looking forward to the Championships and doing the Aviva GB & NI team proud. Preparation has been very good. We have done some quality work with the relay team and for my 100m. I always try and better what I have done in the past.”

With van Commenee looking for an improvement from results in Berlin in 2009 where the Aviva GB & NI team recorded six medals and 20 top eight finishes, reigning World Champions Jessica Ennis (Toni Minichiello) and Phillips Idowu (Aston Moore) go into the Championships looking in good shape to defend their titles from two years ago.

Triple jumper Idowu admits he is relishing the challenge that awaits him. “I feel good,” he said. “It’s going well and I feel in pretty good shape. There is no pressure on me at all. What I’ve done previously doesn’t matter it’s what I do on that day that’s important.”

Berlin 1500m silver medallist Lisa Dobriskey (Ricky Soos) will be looking to go one better this time with a gold, while national 800m champion Jenny Meadows (Trevor Painter), who secured bronze at the previous World Championships, will have her sights set on the top prize after a scintillating season on the track. 

Strongly tipped medal hopes Mo Farah (Alberto Salazar) and Dai Greene (Malcolm Arnold) head into Daegu as serious medal contenders and both men are raring to get on the track in the Daegu Stadium.

Greene said: “I’ve had a good season and have beaten a lot of the top guys already this year but there is not much between us. It will just come down to who is in the best shape. I’ve trained hard all year and I fancy my chances in Daegu.”

“I am really looking forward to the Championships,” confessed Farah. “Training has been going well. I want to do well and if I’m first it would be nice to come away with something and also to keep the team spirit high.”

Elsewhere, the 2011 Aviva GB & NI preparation camp welcomed a number of new faces at senior level including reigning European Under-23 400m hurdles champion Jack Green (Malcolm Arnold) and European Under-23 110m hurdles bronze medallist Lawrence Clarke (Malcolm Arnold). Green said: “It’s a massive thing to be here. This is where I want to be and I go into the Championships with my confidence high from the work I’ve done at the Aviva preparation camp.”

Meanwhile, Andrew Lemoncello (Greg McMillan) has withdrawn from the men’s marathon through injury reducing the squad size by one to 66. Dave Webb (Bud Baldaro) and Lee Merrien (John Nuttall) will form the rest of the team that will run on the final day of the Championships.

A full Aviva GB & NI team media guide for Daegu 2011 can be found here for download http://www.uka.org.uk/media/event-media-guides/

UKA will provide daily news reports from the 2011 World Championships on www.uka.org.uk and quotes from Aviva GB & NI athletes.

For full results visit: http://daegu2011.iaaf.org/Home.aspx