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Last Updated: Sunday, 4 March 2007, 12:27 GMT
Gold vindicates Sanders decision
By Sarah Holt
BBC Sport in Birmingham

Nicola Sanders was a class apart in her 400m final
Sanders won the final by almost a second
Great Britain's Nicola Sanders says her gamble to switch from the 400m hurdles to the flat has paid off after her gold in the European Indoor Championships.

The 24-year-old became the first Briton since Sally Gunnell in 1989 to win the 400m title, but unlike Gunnell she will not return to hurdles.

"What happened was a big jump into world class - it shows I made the right decision," Sanders told BBC Sport.

"To run so fast indoors gives me a lot of confidence for the summer."

Sanders blitzed the field in Birmingham, winning in 50.02 seconds - the fastest time in the world this year and a new British and Commonwealth record.

The Windsor & Eton athlete said she had been inspired by watching team-mate Phillips Idowu receive his triple jump gold before her race, but even she was surprised by the quality of her performance.

"I watched Phillips's medal ceremony and thought 'well done Phillips - hopefully that will be me in a few minutes'," said a smiling Sanders.

"I knew that I had to go out there at the bell and make it hard work for them to come round me but I had no idea how far ahead I was because I couldn't hear anything.

"I managed to hold it together and the time is just fantastic. The ultimate aim was to break Katharine Merry's indoor record but to get the Commonwealth record too - I didn't even know what that was!"

My aim now is to make the final at the World Championships and to run sub-50 seconds

Nicola Sanders

Since joining sprint specialist coach Tony Lester's group, which includes Mark Lewis-Francis and Marlon Devonish, in 2005, Sanders has seen her pace improve massively.

Her decision, prompted by ongoing hamstring problems, to stick to the flat could see her edge even closer to regular sub-50 second runners American Sanya Richards and European champion Vania Stambolova on the world stage.

That is exactly what Sanders is aiming for as she sets her sights on breaking 50 seconds in the summer, with Kathy Cook's British record of 49.43 also within her reach.

"My aim now is to make the final at the World Championships and to run sub-50," said Sanders, who finished sixth in last year's European 400m final.

"I haven't really changed my training that much, apart from this time last year I was training for the Commonwealth hurdles (where she finished fourth). When the guys were doing sprint work I was doing long hurdle sessions.

"Now I have done more speed sessions and I'm confident I have a lot more in my legs."



SEE ALSO
British attitude delights Collins
04 Mar 07 |  Athletics
Sanders romps to 400m Euro gold
03 Mar 07 |  Athletics
Idowu takes gold in triple jump
03 Mar 07 |  Athletics
Collins upbeat after junior haul
22 Aug 06 |  Athletics
Heroes or zeroes?
13 Aug 06 |  Athletics
UK flops receive funding warning
29 Mar 06 |  Athletics


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