Commonwealth Champion and Olympic bronze medallist Kelly Sotherton has called on the people of Birmingham to support her bid for gold at the European Athletics Indoor Championships, which will be staged in the city’s National Indoor Arena from 2-4 March.
The heptathlete who won silver at the last version of the event in Madrid in 2005, has taken up European Athletics invitation to take part in the event and wants to go one better in Birmingham, believing that a home crowd can help put her on the winner’s rostrum in her adopted home city.
Sotherton, who is based at the Birmingham High Performance Centre at the Alexander Stadium, said: “I am really excited about competing in a major event in Birmingham. I am in good shape and I know that if the people of Birmingham are there to cheer me on then I can do well and hopefully win that gold medal. To win gold in the city where I live would be a fantastic achievement.”
All five events of the pentathlon in which Sotherton will compete will be staged on Friday 2nd March. She’ll start with the 60m hurdles before taking on the high jump, shot and long jump and then will finish with the 800m.
Sotherton could well face stiff opposition for the event with Sweden’s Olympic, World and European Champion Carolina Kluft expected to take part and Sotherton’s Great Britain team mate Jessica Ennis, who performed well at the Commonwealth Games in Melbourne last March, also deciding to accept an invitation to compete.
Great Britain as host nation gets a place for one athlete to compete in the pentathlon, however both Kelly and Jess have qualified for the Championships as of right as both are currently ranked inside the top 10 in Europe for heptathlon, the outdoor equivalent to pentathlon.
Two of Kelly’s training partners Nathan Douglas and Ashia Hansen could also feature on the opening day of the Championships with both the men’s and women’s triple jump qualification being staged on the same day.
Tickets for the Championships start at £6 for concessions and £12 for adults (plus booking fees) and there is still a selection of seats available for Friday 2nd March. The final day of the event has now sold out and there is a limited availability on Saturday 3rd March.
For more information call the ticket hotline on 0870 739 2007 or log onto www.birminghamathletics2007.co where you can also view the current timetable for the Championships.
• The European Athletics Indoor Championships will be staged at Birmingham’s NIA from 2-4 March 2007 and will be the most significant athletics to be staged in the UK before the 2012 Olympics. More than 600 athletes from 50 countries will take part.
• The event will be jointly organised by Birmingham City Council and UK Athletics
• The European Athletics Indoor Championships will be part funded by UK Sport’s National Lottery-funded World Class Events Programme, which aims to secure events of strategic importance that deliver a range of lasting benefits. These include economic, social and cultural benefits as well as improving sporting performance by home athletes, encouraging participation and leaving a legacy of facilities and development initiatives. Over 100 sporting events have been staged in the UK through the Programme since 1997. More at www.uksport.gov.uk.
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