28 January 2011
An impressive international showing at the Aviva International Match on Saturday 29 January signals the start of the 2011 Aviva Series, the first international of the year and intensifies the countdown to the London 2012 games.
With some of the world’s top athletes and future Olympians under one roof it is an event not to be missed and with tickets still available and BBC coverage from 14:00 there is no excuse!
Britain’s top athletes including Jessica Ennis, Andy Turner, mark Lewis Francis and Jenny Meadows take on the best from USA, Germany, Sweden and the Commonwealth Select hoping to retain the team title, won at the event last year.
World and European Champion Ennis (Coach: Toni Minichiello), who blew out her birthday candles in Glasgow on the 28th, will be hoping it’s not the only reason to celebrate this weekend. The multi-event star is set for a rematch with world indoor hurdles champion Lolo Jones (USA) , whom she famously beat at the event last year to set a new British record (7.95secs).
And Ennis, admits she is relishing the prospect of once again going up against the American hurdler, but insists her priority remains building on the progress of 2010 by securing gold at the European Indoor Championships in Paris, in March.
She said: “I’m well into my training now and looking forward to the indoor season, at least you know the snow can’t affect the track! It was a great start to the season this year, captaining the Aviva GB and NI team to our win at Kelvin Hall and I’d love to have the opportunity to do the same again.
Jones, with two gold medals from the previous World Indoor Championships in Valencia and Doha to her name, remained consistent on the outdoor circuit last year and is hoping for an equally good run in 2011. And according to Jones, the Aviva International Match could play a pivotal part in her Olympic preparations as she once against competes as part of Team USA.
Sprint hurdler Andy Turner (Coach: Lloyd Cowan) insists there is plenty more to come from him after a dream 2010 which saw him crowned European and Commonwealth Champion and is looking to confirm that against World Champion David Oliver (USA) this weekend.
The Nottingham-born track star admits 2010 was a fairy tale year for him, but having consulted with top biomechanics coaches, maintains there is still room for improvement as he prepares for his first race of the season.
He said: “It’s been an absolutely amazing year. I sat down with my coach at the beginning of the year and set out target for the season, and to come away from Barcelona having done that made it extra special.And the Commonwealth Games were more of a bonus if I'm honest. We said I would only go if I was in good shape and still running well and fortunately I was. So to finish the season with two titles was a dream come true really.”
The Olympic bronze medallist Oliver also comes off the back of an amazing summer having claimed bronze at the World Indoor Championships, while also going unbeaten in all 15 races of his outdoor season.
Turner added: “It’s definitely going to be really interesting competing against David Oliver again. He’s a quality athlete that’s for sure, the best in the world right now and you need to race people like him to bring yourself on as an athlete. I'm definitely not going to shy away from any of the challenges from David, I really look forward to it.
After a whirlwind few years which saw him restore his athletics career from junior stardom, through injury and an incredible comeback, Mark Lewis Francis (Coach: Linford Christie) has now set his sights on the Aviva International Match as vital stepping stones on his path to more international glory.
He said: “It’s been an amazing year; I can’t knock it at all. To have had all the injuries that I've had and then to come back and achieve what I've achieved; I couldn’t ask for anything more.
“I love representing my country. In Glasgow and Birmingham I’ll be wearing the Great Britain vest and I can’t wait. It’s such a close environment, particularly in Glasgow, with the crowd right on top of you cheering you on, which is an incredible lift.”
Lewis Francis will be tested against two sub 10second 100m men in the shape of Marc Burns (COM) and Ryan Bailey (USA).
British 800m rivals Jenny Meadows (Coach: Trevor Painter) and Marilyn Okoro (Coach: Ayo Falola) are also ready to kick-start their 2011 campaign and hope to further the middle distance supremacy which was set in 2010.
Meadows, who comes into Glasgow on the back of a memorable 2010 season, which saw her add a European bronze and World Indoor silver to the bronze medal she achieved at the World Championships in Berlin the year before, is desperate to help the Aviva GB&NI team secure a second successive victory.
She said: “I have a mixture of emotions ahead of the Aviva International Match as the crowd are fantastic and obviously after winter training I’m excited to get out on track, but then at the same time I’m always terrified of that match. It’s an indication of how your winter’s gone so I really do hold it with significance.”
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