Kelly Sotherton has revealed how she knows she can still perform the perfect heptathlon as she bids to finally become an Olympic gold medallist.
The Birmingham heptathlete has found a new lease of life since Beijing last summer and is determined to celebrate the best period of her career on the way to London in 2012.
First port of call is the World Championships in Berlin next month and Sotherton will fine-tune her preparations for Germany this Sunday when she competes in the shot putt at the Birmingham Games at the Alexander Stadium.
Sotherton, 32, the Commonwealth champion, was fourth in Beijing, four years after winning bronze in Athens.
But such is her determination since that disappointing result, she insists her greatest performance is yet to come.
“I have not performed to the best of my capabilities yet,” Sotherton maintained. “I have not had that heptathlon that everyone has in their career where it all goes swimmingly. I just need that heptathlon to come.
“I am quite positive and motivated up to London. I am a better athlete since 2008. I learned a lot over the last four years, the last Olympic cycle. But I have not shown it.
“I have never believed I was as talented as I am. I know that sounds a bit odd but I did not believe I was as good as I was. I have not performed to my potential. I am not burnt out. Most people think I am.”
Sotherton missed four months this year with a foot injury, and Berlin will be her first heptathlon of 2009. It is a repeat scenario from 12 months ago when Beijing was her 2008 debut at the seven-event discipline and she performed moderately well, although going into the event she was some people’s favourite for gold.
At last weekend’s Aviva World Trials and UK Championships, Sotherton was third in the high jump with 1.82m, her aim for the competition, fifth in the long jump with 6.22m and eighth in the shot with 14.51m.
She said: “I know I don’t have to push myself right now.”
But Sotherton, who started sprinting work only at the start of June, is feeling good.
She added: “Considering I was injured for three or four months, just to feel upbeat and motivated and in great shape, my coach said he could not believe I was injured for that time because I have had to keep myself fit.”
Sotherton will be just one of the stars at the Alexander Stadium this weekend where the action begins on Saturday with the Birmingham EAP Game.
Also present will be Australian Tamsyn Lewis in the 400m hurdles.