Sally Gunnell: Experienced Hatti is still chasing her Olympic dream

Hatti Dean
Hatti Dean
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It’s finally here. The Aviva Series 2012 gets under way in Glasgow this weekend and before we know it, Britain’s best track and field athletes will descend on Sheffield for the Aviva Indoor UK Trials and Championships at the EIS on February 11-12.

With the athletics season now upon us, there’s no time to lose to catch up on all the local hopes vying for a berth in London this summer. Next on my list of Sheffield stars to watch is Hatti Dean.

Hatti is one of the most internationally experienced athletes in British track and field, with no fewer than five appearances at the IAAF World Cross Country Championships to her name and a top 20 finish at the race in Mombasa in 2007.

But it’s on the track where Hatti will be concentrating her efforts in 2012 as she fights for a start in the 3,000m steeplechase at the London Olympic Games this summer.

For anyone not familiar with the steeplechase event, athletes cover a distance of 3,000m obstructed by 28 hurdles and seven water jumps along the way. It’s a fast-paced and exciting event to watch.

After ending the 2011 season as the No 2 ranked female steeplechaser in Britain, Hatti enters the Olympic year well placed to earn a berth on the GB team for London but will face tough competition from British No 1 Barbara Parker and up-and-coming talents Eilish McColgan and Lennie Waite.

But with a wealth of international experience under her belt, Hatti knows what it takes to perform on the world stage and will be confident of the task ahead. A finalist at the European Championships and Continental Cup in 2010 and an Aviva GB & NI Team GB representative at the 2007 World Championships in Osaka, where she placed fifth in her heat, Hatti has impressive international credentials to her name.

After the heartache of being forced to withdraw from the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing with a stress fracture in her ankle, Hatti will be intent on making her long-awaited Olympic debut in front of a home crowd in London this summer.

Despite the disappointment of her last Olympic campaign, 2012 is a new year and will start in celebratory style next week when Hatti celebrates her 30th birthday on February 2. The Sheffield star, who lists baking among her favourite hobbies, will certainly be kept busy in coming days creating her very own birthday cake – and then working it off on the training track!

Hatti, who also played lacrosse for England while studying at university, is a talented athlete with a big year ahead of her and a genuine commitment to her sport.

But you don’t have to wait until summer to get a look at Britain’s top track and field hopes. The Aviva International Match in Glasgow this weekend is the Aviva GB & NI Team’s final appearance on home soil ahead of the Games and launches a big year of athletics in the UK.

With 5,000m world champion Mo Farah leading the local side’s charge against teams from the USA, Germany, Russia and a Commonwealth Select representative line-up the action will be fast and furious.

Watch it on BBC1 from 1:30pm this Saturday.