Commonwealth Games gold medallist Louise Hazel is among the few athletes who can breathe easy this weekend – but don’t expect to find the Birchfield Harrier putting her feet up in Birmingham.
While most of Great Britain’s Olympic hopefuls will be fighting tooth and nail to rubber stamp their London 2012 place at the Aviva Trials this weekend, heptathlete Hazel is safe in the knowledge that after achieving the qualifying A standard last July with a tally of 6166, her spot is effectively in the bag.
In Birmingham – and in London – all eyes will be on Jessica Ennis when it comes to the heptathlon as GB’s poster girl bids for Olympic gold, while Hazel has been going quietly about her preparations.
She had hoped to set a new points personal best in the Czech Republic earlier this month but only competed in six events while 19-year-old Brit Katrina Johnson-Thompson set a new personal best of 6248 to move into second in the national rankings.
But Hazel, who is set to compete in the 100m hurdles, the long jump and potential the javelin this weekend, is refusing to push the panic button just yet.
“In general I’m just excited and thinking about the process. I am not worrying too much about the results at the minute,” said Hazel. “You want to go in there knowing that you are in good shape. At the minute I do feel like I am dusting the cobwebs off but it is early. It is hard not to get carried away but in the same sense I am just going to be really patient this year and take every competition as it comes.
“I’ll probably do the hurdles and long jump at the trials and maybe javelin if I am let in. They are going to be competitive and it is always nice to get a good competitive hurdles race in.”
Meanwhile, fellow Birchfield Harrier Mark Lewis-Francis is only too aware of the jostling for the 100m sprint places at present – but he’s vowed to come up the rails at the Alexander Stadium.
The 29-year-old, who won Olympic sprint relay gold at Athens 2004, endured a year to forget in 2011 as persistent groin and stomach problems ensured he could find any sort of form in time for the 2011 World Championships in Daegu.
It was another setback in a long list for Lewis-Francis, who recovered from numerous injuries to win European and Commonwealth silver in 2010, but the Darlaston Dart is adamant he has shaken off his fitness problems this year.
Regardless, he has a fight on his hands to reach London 2012 with the British sprinting ranks recently swelled with teenager Adam Gemili announcing himself by jumping to the top of the rankings as well as Dwain Chambers’ reintroduction to the Olympic fold.
“Last year I was coming into the season with a groin injury, and then I got another injury on top of it, but this year, I’m injury free,” said Lewis-Francis, whose fastest time to date this year is 10.21 – 0.03 outside the qualification A standard.
“It’s just about getting sharp now, instead of worrying about fitness and trying to get ready for the trials. I really am in a good place. We all have to raise our game. I’m in a way better position than I was last year. I’m injury free, my mental strength is good, I’ve got great people around me and I’m focussed.
“I’ve had a good indication of where I am, but I don’t think I’m too far away but there’s a couple of things I need to work on.
“I don’t want to go to the Olympic Stadium until I know I’m on the team,. I’d rather wait until I make the team and keep that hunger, because right now, I’m starving.”
Other Birchfield Harriers in attendance will be Nathan Woodward, who is vying for a 400m hurdles place on the Olympic team as well as high jumper Tom Parsons.
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