Kelly Sotherton has learned the lessons from her Helsinki hell, reports Brian Dick...
With two personal bests in her first event of the season, Kelly Sotherton appears to have overcome the preparation problems that blighted her bid for world glory.
Sotherton, who appeared in Birmingham yesterday to promote the Norwich Union Indoor Grand Prix in a fortnight's time, maintains she has learned from the simple mistake she made before last season's World Championships - training too hard.
Apparently in the weeks leading up to Helsinki, where she finished a disappointing fifth, the 29-year-old lost faith in her own ability and went into some form of athletic overdrive to make sure she was able to compete with uber-heptathlete, Carolina Kluft.
But instead of narrowing the gap between herself and the dominant Swede, Sotherton's excesses left her feeling jaded and so off the pace that, having won a bronze in the Athens Olympics the year before, she fell out of the medals altogether.
It is a mistake the Birchfield Harrier claims she has learned from and one she will not repeat as she tries to turn Finnish disappointment into Australian joy at next month's Commonwealth Games.
Auguries are good so far. In her one meeting of the new year, she equalled her personal best in the long jump and set a new mark in the 60 metres hurdles.
It is tangible progress that she puts down to an improved coaching structure.
"I over-trained going into Helsinki and as a result didn't perform when I needed to," Sotherton admitted.
"You can always doubt your own ability and when you do that you think you need to do a little bit more. I did that but didn't need to, I just needed to back off a bit.
"Technically and speed-wise I was not sharp and that's because I wasn't doing the right work at the right time. I have learned from that now."
Practically that means an overhaul of her coaching structure. At this stage last year she parted company with Charles van Commenee, the man who guided Denise Lewis to Olympic gold, when he returned to Holland.
That left Sotherton having to find specialist help in each of her seven events and battling to manage all the teething problems such a system inevitably threw up.
Twelve months down the line, she believes her back up team are finally singing the same anthem. "I am a lot hap-pier with it now," she said. "This year everyone knows what their aim is, where I am going and know me better as an athlete. They all talk to each other now - every coach has an input somewhere else. It is a lot more organised."
Which can only be good news for her attempts at winning her first global title in Melbourne.
Many athletes have eschewed the nicety of representing England at the Commonwealth Games in favour of attending the World Indoor Championship which take place in Moscow, a mere five days later.
Clubmate Nathan Morgan, for instance, will not defend the Commonwealth long jump crown he won in Manchester four years ago but will try to make a mark on the world scene in Russia.
For Sotherton, however, the choice was an easy one.
"It will be nice to have a title that no Swedish girl can win," she said, alluding to Kluft's grip on the sport. "When I get to the European Championships in August, I will be the only other girl with a global title to my name."
"Money is not my motivation, performing well and winning a medal is my motivation. The winner of the Indoors gets US$40,000 and the top six get money but you can't guarantee that.
"I know I could have gone to World Indoors and at least got into the top three minimum, if not have a chance of winning. But I have chosen to give that up to win the Commonwealth Games.
"Everyone has their reasons, mine is that I want to win a title. It is probably slightly easier for me to win than the World Indoors but I don't care because it is still a title."
Sotherton goes to Melbourne as clear favourite for heptathlon gold following the withdrawal of her nearest rival, the pregnant Margaret Simpson.
With Kluft on the planet it is a situation she is not used to. It is also one in which Britons don't traditionally flourish.
"I would like to be favourite and then actually come first because we don't do that very much in this country," said Sotherton.
"I don't feel the pressure yet, it would be unrealistic to say I won't at some stage, but one thing I know I won't be, is complacent. As long as I don't take it for granted and work hard in each event I'll be happy.
"And as long as I come back with the result I want I won't mind whether I score 6,000 points or 6,700."
Success, she says, is not guaranteed. Although Kluft, Simpson and former world champion Eunice Barber won't be there, she believes the field is stronger than it was four years ago when she finished seventh.
Kylie Wheeler, ranked 15th in the world, will have the support of the home fans and Canada's Jessica Zelinka is close to the top ten. Competitors from India and South Africa have broken the 6,000 point mark that delineates world-class so so Sotherton knows she cannot afford to over-train again.