Myra Perkins is a second year Loughborough athlete who holds the Scottish U20 record for the hammer throw. Here, she shares her experiences with Label to provide a unique insight into the world of athletics and explains the significance of this year’s World Championships as well as some of the athletes to look out for over the weekend.

With less than a year to go until the London 2012 Olympics, this year’s World Athletics Championships are understandably at the forefront of the public’s mind. Recently, I attended the launch of the Olympic Torch Tour in Scotland which really brought home how close the Olympics now are.

As part of The Bank Of Scotland Local Hero programme that offers support to talented athletes, there are unique opportunities for us to attend events such as the Torch Tour launch.  The event was held to promote the Torch Relay, which takes place in the lead up to the Games and also explain how individuals can be nominated to have that once in a lifetime experience of being an Olympic Torchbearer.

The prototype, which I was lucky enough to hold at the launch, will also be on show for the public to have their photo taken with. It was amazing the number of people who approached us during the photo-shoot in South Queensferry, stating rather than asking “That’s the Olympic Torch!” The excitement was almost tangible and I felt very privileged to be involved in such a significant event. To think that the public are already so excited, it is hard to imagine how the athletes are starting to feel.

As it is, the athletes four year wait is almost over, and the World Championships in Daegu, South Korea, this month will prove to be an important milestone in their preparation for the Games next year. Head Coach Charles van Commenee was quoted in Athletics Weekly saying: “It is important to remember there is work to do before London 2012 and Daegu is another stop on the journey to make our athletes run faster, jumper higher and throw further”.

Team GB are sending out 66 athletes, with the aim of beating the 2009 tally of six medals. Jessica Ennis, Mo Farah and Philips Idowu lead the podium hopefuls. Other contenders include Dai Greene and Jenny Meadows, with jumpers Chris Tomlinson and Greg Rutherford spurring each other on with the potential to place well, as do both 4x400m relay teams.

An encouraging number of youngsters are also moving up the ranks with U23 athletes Holly Bleasdale and Sophie Hitch both setting senior British records this year. Their debut senior World Championship will be a critical step in their progression to the Olympic Games next year.

However, there are some notable exclusions, with Andy Baddeley and Chris Thompson perhaps the most surprising. Young Jodie Williams recorded ‘A’ standards for both the 100m and 200m, though chose not to compete on this occasion. Her decision to focus on the junior events has spared her the additional pressure of a senior championship although it may prove costly come 2012.

Internationally, a growing list of stars have pulled out due to last minute injuries, resulting in slightly unfair speculation over the standard in some events.

Overall though, the performances this weekend will be crucial for the athletes before next year. Moreover the IAAF have announced their plans to drug test every single competitor over the nine day event, making the 2011 Championships the cleanest yet, and setting the correct tone before 2012 in which similar drug testing procedures will be in place.

While top British statisticians appear doubtful that this year’s team can beat the record medal haul of 10 from the 1993 World Championships, everyone seems optimistic about the potential success awaiting the home team in 11 months’ time. And with UKA bidding to host the 2017 World Championships at the Olympic Stadium, now seems quite a good time to be a budding young athlete.


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