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1952 Olympic Bronze Medallist urges Tomlinson to “shine this summer”

Chrisl Thomlinson and Shirley Berry
Spike introduces 1952 Olympic bronze medallist Shirley Berry nee Cawley to British long jumper Chris Tomlinson

04 April 2012

British long jump record holder Chris Tomlinson received advice from a British great today as 1952 Olympic bronze medallist Shirley Berry met him to celebrate 100 days to go to the Aviva London Grand Prix, which will take place on 13-14 July 2012, at Crystal Palace.

In a reunion of British athletics medallists from the 1952 Helsinki Olympic Games, Berry passed on some words of wisdom from her time in the spotlight 60 years ago.

She said: “I told Chris to really just enjoy his athletics and savour the big moments. He has already had some wonderful experiences in his career and I hope that he continues to shine this summer. I told him that being an Olympian and wearing a British vest is something that can never be taken away from you and he should be immensely proud of his achievements.”

Tomlinson produced the best jumps of his career in 2011 to break the British record and firmly place himself in the mix for a medal at London 2012. Having jumped a spectacular 8.30m for second place at last summer’s Aviva London Grand Prix, Tomlinson is looking to go one better in Crystal Palace in 2012 and lay down the gauntlet to his rivals.

“There’s no doubt about it, I want to win at the Aviva London Grand Prix. I’ve won here before and finished second on many other occasions and I want to come here and put on a real show for the British crowd.”

Tomlinson also spoke of his fondness for the event – the world’s only two-day Samsung Diamond League meet – which is just three weeks before he competes at the home Olympics.

“This year I’ll be jumping on Friday night and the atmosphere in that session is always electric. The 14,000 strong crowd really get behind the British athletes. You can’t beat getting that kind of support and as a result of that I’ve jumped some of my best jumps ever here - 8.21, 8.30 and 8.17. It was great to see myself and Greg [Rutherford] finish second and third last year against some world class opposition.”

For summer 2012 as a whole, Tomlinson is confident that he can produce the goods if he remains injury-free.

“I’ve analysed my performances from last year and if I can stay away from injury and get some consistency on the runway, I think everything else will fall into place. I’ve just got to focus on myself first and foremost. If I get my technique on point, hopefully I’ll be in the medals at the Olympics this summer.”

Joining Chris Tomlinson and Shirley Berry on the track at the Crystal Palace today, were four other British athletics medallists from the 1952 Helsinki Olympic Games, reuniting in the Diamond Jubilee year of their achievements.

They included Dr John Disley CBE (3000m steeplechase bronze medallist); Sheila Lerwill (high jump silver medallist); Sylvia Disley (nee Cheeseman 4x100m bronze medallist); and June Carroll (nee Foulds, 4x100m bronze medallist). All of the 1952 Olympic medalists will be guests of honour at the Aviva London Grand Prix in July.

The Helsinki heroes reminisced on the pride that they felt representing Great Britain.

Sheila Lerwill said: “It’s wonderful seeing my beloved team mates from 1952 again. This year is a very exciting time for athletics and all of the wonderful events that are taking place in London and we are all absolutely thrilled to be able to witness it all. London is the best place in the world to host an Olympic Games. If Britain does something, you know we will do it well.”

Sylvia Disley recalled the emotion of her success with the 4x100m relay team in 1952.

She said: “I remember the feeling that I had 60 years ago when we had to wait for the photo finish to determine whether we had won a medal. When it was announced that we had won bronze, I cried tears of joy. The feeling is unforgettable and that is what athletics is all about.”

To view more photos, visit UKA's Flickr stream http://www.flickr.com/photos/78372321@N03/

Back the team and watch the world’s best athletes in action at the Aviva London Grand Prix. For tickets visit www.uka.org.uk/aviva-series or call 08000 55 60 56. #backtheteam