The countdown to the 2014 Commonwealth Games is well and truly on. World class athletes from across the globe are putting the finishing touches to their training regimes before July’s games hosted in Glasgow.
MyLocalPitch has spoken to Louise Hazel, who won gold in the Heptathlon at the previous games in Dehli, to get her view on the Commonwealth Games and athletics in the UK.
You go into the 2014 Commonwealth Games as the defending champion, what event or events do you think will be your strongest this time around?
Hurdles, 200m and long jump will always be my strongest events, especially since my background in athletics has always been sprint based. I’d be surprised if I threw over 13m in the shot putt, which would be awesome.
You moved away from London at an early age, is there any athletic club you have a strong connection with in the capital?
Not really, as I was just a baby when we left London. My connection lies in the Midlands, I am a Lifetime Member of Birchfield Harriers who are based in Birmingham.
In your view, what support do young athletes get now compared to when you were getting started in the sport?
I lived in a rural area in Cambridgeshire, and I received no support from my local town and council, which was disappointing. Having said that my school was great at helping out and when I moved to a larger club in the City of Peterborough I started to receive support from local business people, it was much needed.
Nowadays, more money has been invested into grass-roots level sport and participation and there is probably more competition for sporting grants, bursaries and sponsorship. My best advice is for young people to be proactive.
Going into athletics is a huge commitment and results in having to make big sacrifices. If you were speaking to your 14 old self, what encouragement and advice would you give?
Start playing more tennis!
Is there any routine or superstition you have kept since you were starting out?
The night before a competition I mentally visualise each event and how I am going to perform, I play out the rhythm, the noise, the adrenaline rush in my head in order to feel the excitement and anticipation of the event.
Outside of your training regime, what do you do to stay active?
I started an online home fitness and nutrition plan called The Podium Effect in September 2013 and I have filmed 6 stages of intense 60 day workouts, that keeps me extremely fit and in shape.
As well as personal training, I do enjoy a bit of golf and…go karting!
How does the build up to the Commonwealth Games compare with the London 2012 Olympics?
It’s a different kind of excitement, as I will be going in to the competition as defending champion, so I guess you would expect an element of expectation and pressure but I just want to go there and do my best… and smash it!
You announced your retirement from the heptathlon in 2013, but recently reversed your decision. What inspired your comeback?
Ultimately, it was the desire to be competitive again. That spirit never dies for an athlete, whether it’s go-karting or going bowling with friends there will always be some way of making life challenging.
What are your plans post Commonwealth Games?
Watch this space…@LouiseHazel
You can follow Louise via her Twitter page
BY - Max Jerrard
17 March 2014