Birmingham’s Ashia Hansen will be bidding to play out a fairytale ending to her illustrious career by qualifying for the Beijing Olympics.
The 36-year-old triple jumper has endured a horrendous list of injuries during her 14 year career as an international athlete and had she not spent so much time on the treatment table, there is no doubt the Commonwealth and European champion would have even more medals hanging around her neck.
Olympic glory has always escaped her. The closest she has come was fourth in Atlanta in 1996. Injuries have curtailed her other attempts and she has almost quit the sport twice because of a serious Achilles heel problem in 2002 and a serious knee injury two years later that required extensive surgery.
Now Hansen is hoping she can have one last injury-free go for gold in Beijing but first she must qualify for the Great Britain team at the Aiva National Championships, which double as the Olympic trials, at the Alexander Stadium between July 11-13.
To fill one of the three places up for grabs, Hansen must jump the class A standard of 14.20m. She jumped 15.16m to become the world indoor record holder earlier in her career but due to injury she hasn’t jumped further than 14.20m for four years.
“My career is probably going to be over this year,” Hansen admits. “If I make it to the Olympics then obviously it will be my last. I was thinking about carrying on through to the indoor season but we will see how it goes.
“I am not completely over my injuries. I went to Crete recently and unfortunately I picked up a few injuries while I was out there which are just clearing up now. I had to have some time off but I am back in training now. They were Achilles heel problems and I had the scanned but there didn’t seem to be anything wrong with them. They just got really, really sore. I couldn’t run and if you can’t run you can’t jump. I was able to do weight training and stuff like that to keep ticking over.
“It has settled down now – and hopefully I won’t have any more problems. I have to jump 14.20m to qualify, which is the A standard. I haven’t got anywhere near that, mainly because of the problems. The last time I jumped that far was indoors in 2004. Obviously I have had a lot of injuries since then, so hopefully I should be okay.
“My confidence has obviously taken a little bit of a kicking but my training has been going well and I am just building up to the big day. I would love to end my career on a high but sometimes things don’t work out that way. But I have to stay focused and try and concentrate on the end game.”
The fact that the championships will be taking place in her adopted city (Hansen was born in America but adopted aged three months and was raised in London before moving to Birmingham to pursue her career) will give Hansen a massive boost and she is expecting a tough competition.
“I am really looking forward to the nationals and it is fantastic it has come back to Birmingham,” she said. “I will have family and friends there, which will be great.
“There will be a lot of girls who fancy their chances of qualifying and they will all have to pull out big jumps on the day.
“It is going to be great because all the girls will be going for it.”
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