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Page last updated at 14:20 GMT, Saturday, 24 July 2010 15:20 UK

GB look to Euro success

European Athletics Championships 2010
Barcelona, 27 July - 1 August
Watch live on BBC HD/ BBC One/ BBC Two and BBC Sport website (UK users only); Live coverage on BBC Radio 5 live; Highlights of the biggest events on demand online (UK only) Full details

BBC's Phil Jones interviews Eilidh Child
BBC's Phil Jones interviews Eilidh Child in Portugal

By Phil Jones
BBC Sport's athletics correspondent in Portugal

With barely a cloud in sight, it appears fitting there is plenty of blue-sky thinking going on here in camp GB.

It transpires that an azure canvas lends itself perfectly to the picturing of golden dreams.

Athletes who already stand tall amid Europe's athletic elite are thinking only of super-sizing their performances at the European Championships in Barcelona.

"I've run the race through my mind and see myself winning," said Welsh wonder Dai Greene. "Why think of anything else?"

Martyn Rooney
Rooney is one of the favourites for 400m gold

It is a warm front of confidence that has spread throughout the British team. The forecast for Barcelona promises medal showers and more than occasional hail.

Hail Jessica Ennis! Hail Phillips Idowu! Hail Lisa Dobriskey! Hail Martyn Rooney, Greene and Jenny Meadows!

Barcelona could prove to be one giant salute-fest for the best of British if the positive words coming out of this Portuguese base here in the Algarve can be turned into glorious actions in the Olympic Stadium.

To be here is to be away from paying the bills, buying the milk, cooking the dinner, pleasing the relatives.

To be here is to focus, to develop vision of the tunnel kind, a tunnel that leads all the way to Barcelona finals, personal bests, podiums and ultimately gold.

"It'll be a disaster if we don't win," declared one-lap marvel Rooney of his 4x400m team's expectancy that they will follow up world silver with European gold.

Rooney carries similar bravado into his individual event - confidence born of a summer in which at least this one Rooney has consistently delivered. "I'm going there to win - nothing else."

Sitting across from 52 members of the British team during our interview sessions this week, I have seen and heard this level of desire and conviction time and again.

The positive mantra is delivered from on high in UK Athletics these days and is being readily supported by the men and women at the sharp end.

Of course, all the talking and posturing counts for nought if the results don't follow.

But in Berlin last year, the results came and the belief grew. There is no reason to suspect a different, gloomier outcome in the Spanish sun.

Many here have told of their belief that ruling Europe now could be a launching pad to conquering the world at the 2012 London Olympics.

It is refreshing that the fiery determination has not been presented alongside an air of unwelcome intensity. Indeed there are smiles aplenty on show, the banter is flying and the group is bonding.

Farah targets Euro gold

This is a time for training and fine-tuning, yes. But relaxation is key too - the crucial calm before the championship storm. The game faces can be worn come competition time.

Mind you, Idowu revealed he's adopted a more relaxed approach even to competing. The intensity of the Olympic final in Beijing did him no favours.

"I hated it - so now I chat to the other athletes alongside me and it helps relax me more," said Idowu.

It was a plan he put into place with great effect in Berlin last year, turning silver from the previous year into glorious gold.

Phillips too has been awash with smiles. That world title has unquestionably freed him. When I asked him what three words would best sum him up, he replied - quick as a flash - tall, dark and handsome.

Asked what he would make for dinner to impress his significant other he declared: "I'd make a call to the takeaway place."

Group laughter was provided at a team photo call. UKA's head coach Charles Van Commenee - he of the trademark black-rimmed spectacles - stepped away from the gathered athletes and coaches on the photographer's instructions.

Then each of the throng donned their own pair of 'CVC-style' glasses, craftily provided in secret by an insider.

When the boss turned round, he witnessed one big, tongue-in-cheek tribute to him - a vision of the fun amid the focus.

Van Commenee inspired the troops by showing film footage of the great British athletics exploits at the Barcelona Olympics in 1992.

Linford Christie powered heroically to victory in the 100m. Sally Gunnell strode magnificently to a 400m hurdles triumph.

Eilidh Child, herself a 400m hurdler of ever-burgeoning promise, was not alone in admitting: "It gave me goose bumps."

Christie, out here as a coach, read two poems at the team meeting - one written by him.

They offered inspirational words to accompany the inspirational pictures. Team captain Jessica Ennis offered yet more. It was at once emotive and uplifting.

"Now it's time for us to create our own great memories in that stadium," said seasoned sprinter Christian Malcolm.

The historic scene awaits the golden players.

see also
Smyth taking hype in his stride
08 Jul 10 |  Athletics
Rimmer hopes to win first medal
21 Jul 10 |  Athletics
Rutherford out of European Champs
21 Jul 10 |  Athletics
Veteran Ottey set to break record
23 Jul 10 |  Athletics
Athletics on the BBC
21 Apr 11 |  Athletics

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