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The start of something big

HIGH HOPES: Ennis

IN SUCH an important year UK athletics head coach Charles van Commenee will be hoping his charges can perform well at this weekend’s World Indoor Championships.

But more importantly, he’ll be praying everyone comes through with no injuries.

The Great Britain and Northern Ireland team selected for the 2012 IAAF World Indoor Championships in Istanbul is very capable of returning from the well-known juncture between Asia and Europe with a haul that surpasses their four medals from two years ago.

But never has the pressure for British athletes to manage, prepare and maintain their bodies been as intense.

Van Commenee, who always demands the best from his athletes and coaches, has already sounded a warning of caution ahead of the Championships, saying: “This is a strong team and one that can realistically challenge for medals and make finals.

“There are some good athletes coming through and I am looking forward to seeing how they perform on the senior international stage.

“There have been some good performances during the indoor season which bodes well for Istanbul and beyond. The indoor season gives useful information about how athletes are progressing. It is important to remember the focus still remains on London 2012.”


REIGNING CHAMPION: Chambers

Two gold, one silver and a bronze medal from Dwain Chambers, Jessica Ennis, Jennifer Meadows and the men’s 4x400m relay team respectively, was a decent showing in Qatar two years ago and many anticipate another positive showing from the aforementioned.

The newer additions to the team such as Andy Pozzi, Robbie Grabarz, Asha Philip and Shana Cox are also expected to add weight to the GB assault on podium positions.

The 2012 indoor season has seen a clutch of GB athletes produce personal best performances that have made an impression on the international rankings.

Going into Istanbul, 12 Great Britain and Northern Ireland athletes, six men and six women, sit in the top ten performances of the year in their respective event.

Based on that form alone it would be pretty safe to predict that five, possibly six medals could be won. Chambers, Ennis, Shara Proctor, Nigel Levine, Holly Bleasdale and both the 4x400m relay teams will be expected to bring home honours.

Athletes will have to be focused though, the spotlight will be on them like never before and not all of the attention will be positive.

The close of the World Indoor Championships on Sunday will bring into focus the fact that the coming week marks the 100 days to go countdown to the London Olympics.

There will also be the British Olympic Association (BOA) versus the World Anti-doping Association (WADA) case being heard by the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

The case will address the BOA's selection by-law, in place since 1992, which WADA say ‘is no longer compliant with its code’.

It is widely believed that the BOA will lose the case as their selection by-law stance is a unique one.

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