Louise Hazel is aiming to perform better than ever before at next month’s IAAF World Championships having been granted the sweetest of call-ups by selectors yesterday.
The 23-year-old is one of three Birchfield Harriers named in the Great Britain and Northern Ireland squad for the event which gets underway in Berlin in less than three weeks’ time.
The multi-eventer has been picked alongside gold medal favourite Jessica Ennis to compete in a heptathlon competition that will be wide open following the retirement of Carolina Kluft, the failure to qualify of America’s Olympic silver medallist Hyleas Fountain and Kelly Sotherton’s inability to regain her fitness.
That comes despite the fact she was 57 points short of the 6,100 A standard that would have brought automatic qualification, although a massive personal best in Germany earlier this season showed the youngster is one for the future.
Indeed Hazel had not scored anything close to the 6,043 points she racked up in Ratingen last month for about three years, since she last made the international team for the European Championships in Gothenburg.
It was in Sweden that she posted a previous lifetime best of 5,894 points and once more she hopes to be inspired by those around her.
“I am over the moon,” Hazel said. “I will go out there for a PB.
“I have proven that I am in shape and on form, hopefully I can get the A standard in Berlin to prove I am deserving of my spot.
“It has been the one goal I have focused on all year, the thing I have worked so hard for.
“I cannot wait to go out there and compete.
“I love the big occasion because it always brings the best out of me.”
Her call-up is all the sweeter for the fact she has earned it just a few months after having her central funding withdrawn after National Lottery cutbacks.
Following that she has had to piece together her own sponsorship package and work part-time at Birmingham University to finance her ambitions.
The fact she has managed to juggle both is a source of pride for Hazel.
“It’s a massive triumph,” she said. “I have got back to the form I had a couple of years ago and a bit more.
“I have had to be a bit more independent. I feel like I have grown up and changed a lot this year. This is the perfect reward for all that hard work.”
Birchfield team-mate Zoe Derham has also been chosen in the hammer while last year’s Olympic silver medal winner Germaine Mason had his place confirmed.
He will not, however, be joined by fellow high jumper Tom Parsons who finished eighth in Beijing.
The Boldmere-based athlete has struggled for form this year and was 1cm short of the B standard qualifying height of 2.28m.
Birmingham-trained triple jumpers Phillips Idowu and Nathan Douglas will also make the trip, though the latter must overcome a hamstring tear in the next few days.
Most of the athletes will prepare at a holding camp in Monte Gordo, Portugal. Hazel departs for that on August 5 where she will do some sessions with world No 1 Ennis and her last competition is Birchfield at Copthall on Saturday, where she will compete in the shot and javelin.