Thursday, 18 August 2011

Daegu World Championships 2011

The World Athletics Championships begin next week. So seeing as I am fortunate enough to be competing in Daegu next week I thought I might share my experiences and inspirations in the run up to, and during these games.

These Championships are the zenith of the athletics world, excluding of course the multi-sport Olympic Games. Here the best athletes on the planet will congregate to achieve performances that demonstrate the pinnacle of human physical endeavour. There is nothing more interesting than the race to be the fastest and best in each event. Usain Bolt had the world enraptured in Beijing in 2008 and in Berlin in 2009. The likes of David Rudisha (World Record Holder at 800m), Jessica Ennis (World Champion in Heptathlon), and Liu Xiang, Dayron Robles and David Oliver in the 110m hurdles (my event) will be foci of world's media and press.

For me this event is the first major stepping stone to word class performance. This is the first time I have represented Great Britain at a senior outdoor International level. The competition is certainly stiff and the atmosphere is pressing. I can't imagine how it must feel to be one of the favourites at a championships like this: the hours of training, weeks, months, years of psychological preparation, imagination and ambition. I began this sport not long ago and ever since I immersed myself in this terribly addictive world of competitive, elite athletics, I have become a crazily awed character. The athletes that will grace the track in Daegu next week and the week after have all earned a place to represent their country at the highest level. The next step from here is the Olympic Games in London, and the pressure on the best to perform and to lay down the gauntlet to the rest of the world is immense. The buzz, the focus, the preparation is in its final stage. All the athletes in the British training camp here in Uslan, South Korea have an individual responsibility to themselves, their coaches and to their countries and team. On the track this morning the determination and individual focus that is present amongst the athletes demonstrates the importance of the event for each and every person here.

Daegu Stadium

The air is so densely humid and clings to you, you feel as though you could cut it with a knife. This is a different environment to one I have ever competed in before. The jet-lag is murderous, I was up in the middle of the night for 4hrs before finally falling fast asleep again and missing my bus to the track.... The situation is the same for everyone though (except for missing the bus). In 10 days when I compete this weather will probably feel normal and won't hinder me. The acclimatisation is key and when you watch the senior athletes training, you learn the way to treat your body.

Ulsan Stadium

On the track you don't lose focus of the job at hand. I have come here to achieve a personal best (and hopefully do that 3 times). For others the medal is tangible. In the 110m hurdles the race is going be stacked. Liu Xiang, Dayron Robles and David Oliver hold the three fastest times ever in the hurdles and they are all fit and ready to fight for the Gold. The attitude of these athletes must be remarkably ambitious and steady. At the end of the day every single athlete here has trained, has competed to a high level and has experience that can help them relax and stay confident. But the athlete that wins will be the athlete who has the mental edge, that one or two percent of focus more than the other. The competitive edge, the ability to go beyond your best, is the winning ingredient. You may not have trained for as long or as hard as some of your competitors, but the mental edge on the start and throughout the race is the factor that will decide. This is something I am trying to learn. You have to go into each race as though it is a final, as a be all and end all of your career. This is what athletes like Liu Xiang have demonstrated. To step up a notch in the pressure is hard as hell, but those who do it are the champions....and next week those athletes will demonstrate the meaning of victory.

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