Why British Female Athletes look set to shine at London 2012

Williams is just one of many who will give us hope of gold at the 2012 OlympicsBritain’s medal success in Beijing in 2008 was dominated by cycling, swimming and rowing with athletics featuring minimally, yet emerging from this lull in British Women’s athletics are four stars that look set to challenge the world at their home Olympics in 2012.

Despite some success in 2008 with Christine Ohuruogu winning gold in the 400m and Tasha Danvers winning bronze in the 400m hurdles it was a relatively disappointing medal haul for the British athletics team considering previous Olympics with medal winners such as Dame Kelly Holmes and Kelly Sotherton. But fast forward three years and new British athletic talent is beginning to emerge and one hopes that come 2012 these young women will fulfill their potential and win medals.

The big star of the athletics world at the moment is British heptathlete Jessica Ennis who after missing the Beijing Olympics due to injury is the current World and European Heptathlon champion and World Indoor Pentathlon champion. Ennis had looked as though she would be one of the breakthrough athletes of Beijing yet in May 2008 just two months before Beijing Ennis pulled out of a heptathlon competition and it was revealed that she had numerous stress fractures on her right foot and would consequently not be able to compete at the Olympic Games later that year.

With her ankle injury potentially career ending Ennis took a twelve month break from training before returning in 2009. She competed in a number of heptathlons successfully before winning the 2009 World Championship gold medal despite having to change her take off foot for the long jump because of her injury. An equally successful 2010 saw Ennis become the indoor Pentathlon World Champion and win gold at the European Championships in July. However Ennis has competed just three times in 2011 as she pulled out of a number of events following another ankle injury but hopes to compete in the World Championships later this year. Her maturity and talent at just 25 mean that Ennis has the potential to win multiple titles of which the 2012 Olympic heptathlete gold looks certain as there appears to be no other woman quite in Ennis’ league.

Hoping to join Ennis as a gold medal winner in London is Jodie Williams a 17 year old 100m and 200m sprinter from Hertfordshire. Williams who is the reigning World Youth Champion over both distances became the top ranked British women over 200m in 2010 at the tender age of 16 giving British athletics fans hope of a breakthrough talent in these distances. At just 11 she began her athletics career and held a five year unbeaten run in both the 200m and 100m of 151 races until she was defeated for the first time in July 2010 when she was beaten by American Stormy Kendrick in the 200m at the World Junior Athletics Championship. Her strong record and determination has meant that she is hotly tipped to challenge the world’s best in 2012 however her age and lack of experience may make some question whether she can translate talent into medals.

Another female talent, Kelly Sotherton is making the switch from heptathlete to 400m runner in preparation for the 2012 Olympics following a back injury that looked set to finish her athletics career. Sotherton has won numerous medals as a heptathlete, first gaining recognition as an international athlete following an unexpected bronze at the 2004 Athens Olympics. She went on to have a fairly successful career as a heptathlete winning numerous bronzes and silvers and a much deserved gold at the Commonwealth games in 2006. More recently Sotherton’s switch to 400m has seen her assist the 4x400m relay team at the 2011 European Indoor Championship where they won silver. Her seamless transition from heptathlete to 400m specialist has given both her and her fans hope and confidence that come 2012 she will be able to capitalise on good form and convert it into a medal.

In the long distance track events Jenny Meadows has come forward as one on Britain’s top medal hopefuls for the 2012 Olympic Games. This is following several strong consecutive seasons which have accumulated in her winning 800m bronze at both the 2009 World Athletics Championship and the 2010 European Championships along with silver medals at both the World and European Indoor championships in 2010 and 2011 respectively. Her rise to the top of British 800m running has increased the anticipation of another Dame Kelly Holmes success story and there is no doubt that Meadows will want to establish herself in the history books and win the gold medal, but she will face stiff competition from the world’s top athletes and 2012 looks set to test her nerve.

All four women are either at the top of their game or expected to be there in less than 16 months and with the support of the British public behind them at their home Olympics one can be optimistic that they can convert their boundless talent into multiple medals and shine at London 2012.

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