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Sotherton relishes coach's return

By Mark Ashenden

Sotherton and Van Commenee
Sotherton was coached by Van Commenee during his last stint with UK Athletics

Kelly Sotherton says head coach Charles van Commenee's return will give British athletics a much-needed boost.

He was the heptathlete's coach in 2004, and called her a "wimp" when she missed out on an Olympic silver medal.

Van Commenee starts the job in February and Sotherton said: "I'm really looking forward to working with him again.

"Because of his vast experience and knowledge and what he can bring to my event, I think he's going to really benefit athletics."

Looking back at the whole year, I think I did well to get on the start-line in Beijing

Kelly Sotherton
Injury hampered Sotherton's build-up to Beijing and after finishing fourth she is fit and fired up for the new season.

She is currently taking part in warm-weather training in South Africa preparing for the indoor season.

The Aviva International Match takes place in Glasgow on 31 January and the European Indoor Championships follow, in Turin in March.

The 32-year-old's first heptathlon meet of the year is in Gotzis, Austria where she will be reunited with Van Commenee for just two days because her usual coach Aston Moore is at the wedding of former triple-jumper Ashia Hansen.

As multi-discipline coach for UK Athletics, the Dutchman guided Sotherton to an Olympic bronze in Athens in 2004 but was highly critical of a disappointing 800m performance, calling her a "wimp" and a "weasel".

But Sotherton told BBC Sport: "He's a hard task master. It was an interesting appointment and people will benefit greatly from him."

Britain's medal haul of just four athletics medals in China last year led to Dave Collins standing down as performance director.

With Sweden's Carolina Kluft missing at the Olympics last year, Sotherton was favourite to win gold in Beijing, but she had to deal with kidney failure five weeks beforehand and also suffered a torn quad.

Three weeks later Sotherton eased the pain of missing a medal by beating Olympic champion Ukrainian Natalia Dobrynska at a heptathlon meet in France - something she calls "sweet revenge".


"Looking back at the whole year, I think I did well to get on the start-line in Beijing," Sotherton added. "If I had had a better build-up I think I would have won it. But I didn't.

"That's why I've still got fire in my belly. I've still got the enthusiasm and motivation to go on."

During the winter Sotherton has continued to improve on her weak disciplines, such as the javelin, and a slight change in approach has involved an emphasis this year on speed and power rather than endurance.

With the World Championships in Berlin in August and the London Olympics in three years' time, Sotherton is happy to be injury-free to face the challenges.

Kelly Sotherton
Sotherton is warm-weather training with some of her British team-mates

"I believe I can do 2012. Some people are sceptical because of my age but if I didn't think I could challenge I wouldn't be doing this," she said.

"I might not be a contender for gold but I might be a contender for a medal. I really would like to win the World Championships, though.

"Doing that would half-satisfy me after not winning the Olympics. It's not the same but I would rather have that than no medal."

She quickly dismissed talk of stepping down from the heptathlon, although she will be 35 when the Games begin.

"I would still like to be considered part of the 4x400m relay team this year," she said. "I don't know how much I have to prove myself to be part of the team.

"I have shown I can perform on three occasions - including two good splits in Beijing. However, heptathlon will always be number one until my body says it can't do it.

"I just feel renewed and the disappointment at the Olympics hasn't eaten at me. I've used it it quite positively. It's still there but that is what is driving me."

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see also
Van Commenee named UKA head coach
23 Sep 08 |  Athletics
Sotherton claims Dobrynska scalp
14 Sep 08 |  Athletics
Sotherton fifth as Dobrynska wins
16 Aug 08 |  Athletics
Kluft backs Sotherton to win gold
01 Jul 08 |  Beijing 2008
Sotherton's last chance - Lewis
11 Jun 08 |  Athletics
Sotherton eyes up track for 2012
30 May 08 |  Athletics
Athletics on the BBC
28 Oct 08 |  Athletics
Contact TV team
08 Apr 08 |  Athletics

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