26th December 2011

Clitheroe Targets Aviva Series


27 December 2011

Reigning European 3000m indoor champion Helen Clitheroe will look to build on a superb 2011 by commencing her Olympic year in style at the Aviva International Match in Glasgow on 28 January.

Thirty-eight-year-old Clitheroe provided one of the highlights of the meet in 2011 when she stormed to victory over 3000m in a time of 8:52.31 to eclipse Liz McColgan’s 22-year stadium record at Kelvin Hall.

The former 1500m and steeplechase athlete, who has recorded a total of four personal best performances at the Aviva International Match, went on to claim a memorable gold medal in the same event at the European Indoor Championships in Paris in March.

Now aiming for a hat trick of wins at Kelvin Hall following her victories in 2010 and 2011, Clitheroe will be looking for a strong start to 2012 when she again takes on the 3000m in what could prove a career-defining year for the track veteran.

Just three weeks after her appearance in Glasgow Clitheroe will test herself against a world class field at the Aviva Grand Prix in Birmingham, where she will contest the 3000m in front of an expected capacity crowd at the NIA on 18 February.

Clitheroe said: “This year is an important one for me – I had some real highs in 2011, which were absolutely fantastic.

“My race in Paris caused a bit of a stir back home and I couldn’t believe the attention I received. But it was all welcomed and it’s really fantastic to know that you’ve got a lot of support, that people recognise you when you step out on the track and give you that extra cheer you need.

“I went away to Kenya in November and will be heading back out there straight after Christmas. It’s really good to get away and get my head into some hardcore training. It gives me a really positive start to the winter training season and hopefully things will keep moving along well.

“Both the Aviva International Match and the Aviva Grand Prix have been great events for me in the past and I’ve had some good results at both meets, even though they’re completely different events.

“I think of the Aviva Grand Prix as a rehearsal for the indoor championships, the very best athletes in the world compete in Birmingham and it’s amazing to have the opportunity to race in meets like that in the run-up to a major championships.

“Glasgow is just a brilliant event, the crowd is always really into athletics and this is the last time that we’ll be competing at Kelvin Hall so that will be really special too. The venue has such a strong heritage and it really is a privilege to race there.”

Clitheroe, who made her Olympic debut in Sydney back in 2000, will use the coming Aviva Series as a critical step in preparing for her third Olympic campaign.

"I see the indoor races as a stepping stone to my 2012 season and a great way to break up my hard winter training regime and get some good insight that we can use to make sure everything is right for the summer,” she said.

“2012 is a very important year for us all and although it’s still a way in the distance, everything I do in training or racing is geared towards performing well at the Olympics."

Clitheroe will be joined by world and European champion Mo Farah at the Aviva International Match in Glasgow and by Jamaican sprint star Asafa Powell, on his UK indoor debut, at the Aviva Grand Prix in Birmingham, as the world’s best athletes look to launch their Olympic year campaigns at the Aviva Series 2012.

The Aviva International Match will be at Kelvin Hall in Glasgow on 28 January and the Aviva Grand Prix will be at the NIA in Birmingham on 18 February. Both events will be shown live on the BBC. For tickets or more information go to uka.org.uk/aviva-series or phone 08000 556 056.