Tuesday, January 1, 2008

2008 Olympics Campaign

1 March 2008 - Australian Champs

Just completed the Australian Champs heptathlon, finishing 2nd with 5700 points, still 300 points shy of the magic 6000 for Beijing!
The event was average the whole way through, with all events being below what I was aiming for, despite great conditions in Brisbane. Nothing was terrible, but there weren't any notable results either!
The highlight for me was probably the first lap of my 800m, which I ran in 60 seconds, 5 seconds faster than my first lap in any other 800m. It was a bit of a breakthrough for me mentally, knowing that I can go out that positive and fast and still finish! I finished the 800 in equal PB time of 2.15, so slowed in the 2nd lap.
The good news is that despite not making the qualifying mark, the NZ Athletics selectors have granted me an extension to the qualifying time for the Olympics.
Instead of the qualification period finishing at the end of March, I now have until the end of June to meet the standard. I applied for the extension as a result of my hip surgery last year. I am really stoked and extremly lucky as for most other athletes the cut off is in 3 weeks time.
I am now finished my competitive season, am having a couple of days off and then getting back into some solid training and aiming to compete in 3 heptathlons in May and June in Belgium, France and Germany.....and then on to Beijing!
Once again thanks so much for all your emails of encouragement, it means heaps to me!

22 April - Off to Europe

Its just under 3 weeks until I leave to go to Europe to have my last crack at qualifying for the Beijing Olympics.

Some of you may have seen in the media they annouced the athletics team for Beijing last week and there were "6 unnamed athletes" who had been given an extension to qualify until 30 June due to injury, and I am one of the lucky 6!

The build up to my European trip is going really well. I have had a solid 6 weeks training without break from injury or competion since Australian Champs, the longest constant full training block I have had for more than a year. Its fantastic to be able to string weeks of good training together and I am getting stronger with each week. Its just started getting a bit wintery in Christchurch so nice to think I will soon be soaking up the sun in the European summer!

I am going to be based in Dortmund, Germany where I will train and compete in local meetings doing the individual events.
I have two heptathlons lined up, one in Arles, France (7-8 June) and the other in Ratingen, Germany (21-22 June). These are part of the World Combined Events Challenge so it is awesome to get a start in these world-class events with world-class competition.
The results of the events will be on http://www.iaaf.org/competitions/challenges/wce/index.html, but I will also try and email through my results as soon as I can. I cant wait to get over there and put all the good training into an awesome 6000 point competition!

I will send through an email with how things are going in Germany after we arrive

18 May 2008 - Germany

Hi everyone,
Arrived safe in Germany on Tuesday to 26deg which was nice welcome after frosty Christchurch!
We are staying in a place called Dortmund near Dusseldorf. We are being well looked after by the local athletic club with full access to everything. Its an awesome training set up with full indoor training and outdoor training facility. A real treat having indoor facility as there is nothing like it in NZ and can train in all weather. Its got a full 200m banked track.
Having lots of fun doing supermarket shopping and figuring out whats what. The only problem is the bakery down the road which has some amazing looking treats in it and trying to stay clear!
Had my first competition on Saturday, a 100 hurdles and 100m at a local meeting about 2 hours drive from Dortmund in a place called Mayen. I won both the 100 hurdles in 14.39 and the 100 in 12.20. Both times which were as fast as I ran during the NZ summer so very happy to be in that kind of shape for my first races 4 days off the plane.
Sarah Cowley, heptathlete from Auckland, arrives next week to stay, so will be nice to have a training buddy. She is also doing the 2 heptathlons with me in June in France and Germany.
My next comp is next weekend where I will be doing a few more events - the hurdles, javelin, shot, long jump and 200m over a 2-day competition in a place called Zuplich near Cologne.

26 May 2008 - Zuplich Competition

Had another comp on the weekend at a place called Zulpich about 2 hours from our base in Dortmund. Its been great going away and seeing a bit of Germany. We have got lost on the motorway yet, and are slowly getting used to driving at 120km/h and being passed as if we were standing still by the BMWs pushing 200km/h!
Overall I was really happy with the comp, it was held over 2 days on Friday and Saturday afternoon. The hurdles and javelin on the first day were a little down on what I was looking for. I won the hurdles in 14.56sec and was second in the jav with 42.33m.
The next day was much better with a second best ever in the shotput, winning in 14.10m and winning the 200m in the fastest time I have run in about 3 years with 24.56sec. The high jump was a bit of a shocker with a few technical issues, clearing only 1.54m! I know where I went wrong though and have got a few training sessions lined up to tweak the technique.
The body is all in one piece too which is awesome. It was a year to the day on Saturday since I had hip surgery so great to be back competing at 100%.
The next comp is next Saturday in Duisberg as a final hit-out before the first heptathlon in Arles the following weekend.
Sarah Cowley has arrived which is great and David Ambler, a guy I train with in Christchurch who is going to World Juniors in Poland in July, arrives on Sunday, so we are setting up a real kiwi training camp!
Hope all is well back in NZ and you're staying warm!!

1 June 2008 - Duisberg Competition

Well I had my final hit-out before Arles on the weekend in a city called Duisburg at the West German Championships.
I did the long jump and javelin. Both events didn't go fantastically with 5.48m in the long and 40m in the javelin....but I am feeling great despite the poor results.
I have a history of performing below par (just to test the nerves of my coach!!) the weekend before a major event and doing PBs, so I know it sounds silly but I am actually glad they weren't good results as it means big things are coming up!!
I now have the rest of the week to rest up and get freshend up for Arles. We head to France on Wednesday.
The event is held Saturday and Sunday, starting with the hurdles at midday on Saturday. You will be able to check live results on http://www.iaaf.org/WCE08/results/index.html, but I will also email as soon as I can to let you know how I got on

6 June 2008 - Arles Heptathlon

Have just finished the heptathlon in Arles.
Was an interesting weekend.
Started with a huge personal best (PB) in the hurdles, 13.78, but the wind was +6.2 metres per second, which is over the allowed +4.0.
It is complicated in the multi events with the wind. You are allowed up to +4.0 in any of the events where wind is measured (hurdles, 200m and long jump). If you go over +4.0 then you need to have an average over the three events of less than +2.0. So things were not looking good for a legal score (Olympic qualifying has to be legal winds).
Anyway, it was a personal best, first time under 14 seconds and my first time scoring 1000 points in a single event!!
The high jump was next, my best high jump ever, I cleared every height first attempt and finished with a PB of 1.65
The shot put next was not great, 13.30m, almost a metre down on my best.
So I got fired up for the 200m and ran a PB for the heptathlon 24.38, but again the wind was illegal at +4.2. I ran the second fastest 200m out of all the girls.
We firgured out we would need to jump into a 4.0 head wind in order for the score to be legal (an average of 2.0).
The long jump the next day was a tail wind, and I jumped a seasons best 5.71.
The javelin wasn't great, 42m, well short of my best.
So I got fired up for the 800m after a crappy javelin. I was sitting in 4th place and had to beat the girl in 3rd place by 6 seconds in order to get on the podium and grab the bronze.
I ran a 5 second PB in the 800m, 2.10.00 to win and also beat the 3rd placed girl by the required amount and claim the bronze!
So it was an awesome way to finish!! Some nice euro prize money too!!
It was a PB score overall, 5940, just 20 points shy of 2nd place and 60 points shy of the magic 60000, but was wind assisted.
I am really happy as I am very close to 6000 and my throws were well down on where they should be, so a bit of work on those in the next few weeks and keep my form in the rest of the events and it will be all on for Olympic qualifying in Ratingen in 2 weeks time!! Especially great to finish on such a massive 800m PB as its a huge confidence booster to finish on a strong event. Even though the hurdles and 200m were wind assisted performances I am still confident of running similar times with less wind. Fingers crossed the tail winds are lighter in Germany!!
The other Kiwis, Brent Newdick and Sarah Cowley were 7th and 8th respectively, so it was a great day for NZ multi eventers!
Full results from Arles: http://www.iaaf.org/wce08/results/eventCode=3986/sex=W/discCode=HEP/combCode=hash/roundCode=7/summary.html#det

13 June 2008 - Final Preparations

The recovery from Arles has gone well, and am starting to feel ready for the next comp. Had a great shot and javelin session yesterday followed by a great high jump session today to iron out a few issues. Now its pretty much feet up and rest to prepare for Ratingen next weekend!
We start 10.30 Saturday morning (21st June). There is a great line up, 21 athletes, all German apart from a Cuban, Norwegian, Sarah and myself. 8 girls have personal bests over 6000 points so the standard is world class. It is the German qualifying meeting for Beijing so all the German girls will be going for it, as will the Kiwis!
Again the results will be on the IAAF website live if you are up in the middle of the night and want to check it out, just go to http://www.iaaf.org/competitions/challenges/wce/index.html and click on 12th Erdgas-Mehrkampfmeeting.

23 June 2008 - OLYMPIC QUALIFICATION!

I QUALIFIED FOR THE OLYMPICS!!
Scored 6108 in Ratingen this weekend to finish 6th, well over the 6000 needed!!
I didnt start very well, the hurdles were down on my best with 14.29.
But from then on it was all go....a PB in the high jump (1.67m), a PB in the shot put (14.51m, 2nd overall) and a PB in the 200m (24.20, 1st overall) ending with a PB first day score of 3548, well over my first day target of 3500.
The next day started well too with a PB in long jump (5.95m, in the last jump!). The javelin was a seasons best 45m, leaving 2min18sec needed in the 800m to score 6000 points.
I nailed the 800m, winning in 2.10.40, ending with a score of 6108 and a ticket to Beijing!
Video highlights from the event: http://www.leichtathletik.tv/v/siebenkampf-highlights
It hasn't really sunk in yet, but am sure it will over the next few days!
We fly back to NZ tomorrow.
Thank you everyone so so so much for helping me to achieve this goal, you have all played an important part in my journey, its been up and down but its been well worth the wait and I can't wait to become an Olympian in August!

23 June 2008 - Excitement!

Its 4.30 am and I cant sleep (too excited!) so thought I would email some more news from Ratingen that in my excitement last night I didn't mention!
Perhaps the most heart wrenching, but definately most inspiring, story for me was from my good friend and team mate Sarah Cowley from Auckland.
Also on track for a big score after some good results in Arles a few weeks ago, Sarah was on fire in the first event the hurdles, until disaster struck at the 9th hurdle and she clipped it and fell to the track. She got up and crossed the line, but unfortunately no points for the event.
Instead of stopping, Sarah put the dissapointment behind her and showed amazing guts and heart to finish the remainder of the heptathlon with some great performances, especially in the 800m when she won her heat (the two kiwis made a lasting impression in the final event in Ratingen!).
It was just awesome to have her with me there when I qualified and we have made a pact to compete together at the World Champs in Berlin next year! My score also bettered the 2009 World Champs qualifying mark of 6050.
The meeting was also the German Olympic qualifying meeting. With only 3 athletes able to be selected per country and 6 or so Germans in both the mens and womens fields able to meet the standard it was a fierce battle to the end! The German qualifying dramas are told in the IAAF report: http://www.iaaf.org/WCE08/news/newsid=45435.html.
The crowd support for the local athletes was incredible. Each athlete seemed to have a full team of supporters all dressed in supporters t-shirts, beating drums etc. The noise was incredible! The crowd was allowed onto the infield for some events, so we had people all around in the shot put and high jump, such a cool feeling.
There was a smaller but just as noisy kiwi contingent cheering in the stands, mum and dad were there which was awesome as well as some friends who had come over from London - thanks so much for coming guys! There was even a large NZ flag flying from a flag pole in the stadium, something you dont see too often in Germany, so we felt right at home!!
The plan now is to have a few days off to recover from the event and the flight home and then back into some training to fine tune before Beijing.
I will head to Hong Kong in late July for a few weeks prior to Beijing for some acclimatisation and warm weather training.
Its only 46 days until the opening ceremony on the 8th August, and the heptathlon is the first athletics event, starting on the 15th August.
I have my sights on Jo Henry's NZ record 6278 points, which with a better hurdles and javelin and a few more centimetres and seconds here and there will be achievable in the near future!
Once again thank you all for your support, I couldnt have done it without all of you behind me!

29 June 2008 - Olympic Selection Confirmed

I got a phone call on Friday night from Athletics NZ saying that my selection for Beijing had been confirmed by the NZ Olympic Committee, it was the best phone call I've ever had!! Its all starting to sink in now that I have the official nod.

I have had the week off training to recover from the competition and the flight home. We started back training yesterday in freezing southerly rain, oh to be back in Germany and the indoor track!

I head to Hong Kong on the 26th July for a 2 week warm weather training camp with the rest of the athletics team before going to Beijing on the 10th August.

The heptathlon is the very first athletics event in the "Birds Nest" stadium, with the 100m hurdles at 9am on the 15th August. I will be out there with some of the other Kiwis - Nick Willis (1500m), Valerie Villi (Shotput) and Kim Smith (10,000m) all compete on the same days as me (15th and 16th). The 800m for the heptathlon is scheduled right before the "blue ribbon event", the mens 100m final, so the stadium will be packed and buzzing!

I am going to do a blog through the NZOC website to keep everyone updated on news from Hong Kong and the Olympics while I am away, I will send through the details of how to access it soon.

I would like to say a massive thank you to everyone who has been a part of my campaign to get to the Olympics, in particular:

Andrew Maclennan, Get Fast and Strong Ltd (Coach)
Adidas
Horleys
Skins
Blackmores
Crichton Cobbers Gym
GHD Limited
Injury Solutions
Momentum Physiotherapy & Pilates
Active Health QEII
MuscleWorks
Christchurch Therapeutic Massage Centre
AAA Clinics
Smiths Optics
NZ Academy of Sport (South Island)
and Athletics NZ.

Now my place in the team is confirmed it is time to knuckle down and focus on being at my best for the competition at the Olympics in 6 weeks!

21 August 2008 - Beijing 2008

Sorry it has taken me a while to update you all on the Olympics but there is so much going on here its hard to sit still for a minute!!

I finished my comp in 23rd position, with my second best score of 5989, an agonising 11 points shy of 6000!
I did a big PB in my high jump 1.71m and some good consistent shot put throws over 14m. My javelin let me down with 42m, well off my best of 48m. I won my 800m heat in my second fastest time of 2.13. So there were some good solid performances and it was great to do a score close to 6000 with only 1 PB in the high.
I finished 4th in the Commonwealth, which bodes well for the Commonwealth Games in New Delhi in 2010 and medal prospects!

Being out in the "Birds Nest" stadium was incredible...the atmosphere was amazing with a full house of 91,000 people.
I was out on the track running for the 800m when Val Villi won the gold in the shot put. All the heptathletes do a victory lap together and we met Val doing her victory lap down the back straight so it was pretty cool to be a part of that.

On a bad note we found out this morning that the Ukranian woman who got silver in the heptathlon has failed a drug test. So I will now be in 22nd spot!!

I have spent the last few days since competing out supporting the other kiwi athletes....we saw Nick Willis win bronze the other night which was amazing. Its so great watching the NZ flag going up the flag pole in the medal ceremony!

My whole family is here, so fantastic that they could be part of it all, I even got to see them in the stands when I was competing. We all went out to the Great Wall yesterday.

I am currently ranked 7th on the IAAF World Combined Events Challenge. The Challenge takes all the heptathletes top 3 scores of the season and the top 8 women get prize money so I am hoping to hold onto a top 8 spot. There is one more heptathlon in France in September which counts towards the Challenge so fingers crossed the women there don't do big scores!! To finish well in the Challenge is a reflection of my consistency over the last three heptathlons, with an average score of 6012 points, so I am really happy and its a great way to end the season.

Well its been an incredible past few months and I really cant thank you all enough for helping me to get to, and to experience the Olympic Games, it really is the most amazing sporting spectacle and there have been a few moments when I have had to fight back the tears! I have thought a lot about the past 4 years since I sat in the stands at the Athens Olympics watching and vowing that next time I would be out there and the persistance at wanting to be an Olympian has paid off!!

I am now having a few weeks off training before starting build up for the NZ summer season and working towards World Champs in Berlin next year. I am all fired up being here and mixing with the best in the world, and cant wait to compete on the world stage again in Berlin and have that NZ record in my sights.

I will spend the next few days hanging out with my family and going to some of the other athletics events and the kayaking on Friday. The closing ceremony is on Sunday and that will be one HUGE party!! The whole team then fly home to NZ on the 26th....back to work, back to reality!!

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