Former Olympic silver medallist Steve Cram has admitted that his protégé Laura Weightman must put her Olympic aspirations to one side as she prepares for the Aviva 2012 Trials on 23-24 June.
Cram has been the mastermind behind Weightman’s recent form, which has seen her rise to second in the UK rankings over 1500m this year. Despite acknowledging that an Olympic place was the target for 20 year old at the start of the year, Cram believes it will count for nothing if she doesn’t overcome the challenge that faces her at Birmingham’s Alexander Stadium in what is the most competitive Olympic Trials in 20 years.
“Getting in the Olympic team was the primary target - if Laura manages to achieve that then we can start to think about what we think would be a good thing for her to aim at during the Olympics and for the rest of the season. So for the minute we’re not looking beyond achieving that primary goal of a top two finish at the Trials.”
Only world silver medallist Hannah England has recorded a better time than Weightman this year, and Cram is confident that his star pupil can complete the last piece of her Olympic puzzle at the Aviva 2012 Trials this weekend.
“Laura’s worked really hard this year and she’s getting the rewards. In terms of what we thought we would have to do, the last part of that plan was that she knew she had to beat some good people at the Trials. The first bit is to get yourself in shape, the second bit is try and get the A standard, we’ve done those two things and like many athletes are happy to have achieved that.
“But then at the Trials you’ve then got to beat other people who have been trying to do the same thing, but it’s going to be up to her to react and make the right decision on the day. I’m confident that she’ll be able to do that.”
Weightman secured the Olympic ‘A’ qualifying standard in Hengelo last month but the British number two is not underestimating the task that she faces to qualify for the Games.
“I knew from the winter training that I had the capability to run the A standard, so it has taken a bit of pressure off me. It is going to be a really tough race, with lots of competition, so I have to make sure that I keep doing what I’m doing at the moment.
“My main aim is to perform well at the Trials and make the Olympic team in London. It’s a strong event, but if you get into the position of the Olympic final, anything can happen on the day.”
Cram echoed Weightman’s sentiment: “Andy Turner got a medal in the 110m hurdles last year at the World Championships which on paper didn’t look possible, but that’s what happens. Big names get disqualified, people trip up - all sorts of drama is going to happen at the Games, and someone will win a surprise medal. There will be someone in the team who none of us had down to win a medal, could pick something up. I remember in 1980, nobody gave Gary Oakes a sniff in the 400m hurdles, and he won bronze.”
In what is the biggest year of her career, Weightman has recognised the contribution of Cram in her development, and believes that the knowledge and support of the British 1500m record holder is invaluable to her ambitions.
“Steve has been hugely influential in my progress as an athlete. I have improved considerably over the last few years under his guidance, and it certainly helps with Steve being hugely successful himself.
“He has been there to give me advice support, and with his experience of Trials and the Olympic Games, he has helped me to focus on the Trials and not get too stressed on what comes after that.”
The women's 1500m at the Aviva 2012 Trials is scheduled for 23-24 June.
Back the team and watch over 750 of Britain’s best athletes in action at the Aviva 2012 Trials at the Birmingham Alexander Stadium from 22nd-24th June. For tickets visit www.uka.org.uk/aviva-series or call 08000 55 60 56.