The Aviva Series 2012 is under way, and for Britain’s best track and field athletes the countdown to this summer’s London Olympic Games has really begun.
Last month in Glasgow the Aviva GB & NI Team scored a blistering win over fierce rivals the USA, Germany, Russia and a Commonwealth Select side at the Aviva International Match in Glasgow, seeing its 2012 campaign off to a triumphant start.
Of course, the poster girl for the Olympic Games and one of Britain’s top medal hopes is none other than local hero Jessica Ennis.
The 26-year-old former heptathlon world champion will carry a weight of expectation into this summer’s Games but with her wealth of international experience and sheer fighting spirit, Jessica will only be buoyed by the challenge ahead of her.
For anyone unfamiliar with the gruelling event, heptathletes compete in seven individual disciplines over two days, collecting points for their performances along the way.
After testing their mettle in the 100m hurdles, high jump, shot put, 200m, long jump, javelin and 800m, the event winner is at last crowned before all athletes take part in a traditional lap of honour of the track.
After scooping gold in the heptathlon at the 2009 World Championships in Berlin, Jessica lost her crown to Russian rival Tatyana Chernova in Daegu last summer and now has redemption on her mind.
In Daegu it was the javelin that cost Jessica the title, with a disappointing result in that event seeing her fall just short of the gold medal. But Jessica is a strong all-round competitor and fans can expect her to be at the top of her game when the heptathlon competition starts in London on 3 August.
In 2011 Jessica recorded new personal best performances in no fewer than five event disciplines, improving her mark in the 200m, 800m, 100m hurdles, long jump and shot put to show she is on track for a phenomenal Olympic debut.
After a hard winter on the training track the reigning European and world indoor champion will return to action this weekend in the 60m hurdles, shot put, long jump and high jump and events at the Aviva Indoor UK Trials and Championships in Sheffield. The meet will form an important part of Jessica’s preparations for next month’s World Indoor Championships in Istanbul, where she will line up in defence of her world indoor title.
So there it is, my top track and field athletes from right here in Sheffield to keep an eye on this year – some of them you might see in action at the Aviva Indoor UK Trials and Championships this weekend. If you haven’t managed to secure tickets to the sold-out event, you can catch all the action live on Channel 4 at 2pm this Sunday.
I hope you’re all looking forward to the year ahead; it’s a fantastic time to be in the UK and even if you can’t make it along to the Games, make sure you tune in to support your local hopes.
I’ve really enjoyed giving you some insight into the world of track and field over the past few weeks; thanks for following along and I hope you’ve enjoyed it too.