RPT-Athletics-Sotherton changes event, goals and shape


Wed, 16 Feb 12:02:00 2011

Kelly Sotherton has changed her event, her goals and even her shape in the buildup to the 2012 London Olympics.

The 34-year-old Briton, a heptathlon bronze medallist at the 2004 Athens Olympics, called time on multi events last October after suffering a prolapsed disc in her lower back.

Determined to compete in a home Olympics, she flirted briefly with changing sports completely and taking up cycling. She also considered emulating Sweden's former Olympic and world heptathlon champion Carolina Kluft and taking up the long jump.

Finally Sotherton opted for the 400 metres, after helping Britain to fifth place in the 4x400 relay at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

Bearing in mind the physical and tactical demands of the one-lap sprint, it is not the easiest option Sotherton could have chosen.

"I know," she sighed in an interview with Reuters. "People have been saying that to me but they've been saying I should do 400 hurdles and that's even harder. But I do enjoy my running and I think that was my strength as a heptathlete."


Speaking at a media event sponsored by Alfa Romeo, Sotherton said she was more than a kilogram lighter than at the same time in previous years.

"I've definitely changed shape in the last couple of months," she said. "My jeans don't really fit me any more, I have to get a new wardrobe.

"At this time of year I'm a kilo, a kilo-and-a-half lighter than I normally am. That's quite an achievement. I've had to change my diet and my supplements."

Sotherton will be trying for an individual 400 spot on the British team and believes she can reduce her personal best of 52.19 seconds to around the 51 mark.

"I'm too ambitious to think I'm just going to go for the relay," she said. "I have a great respect for all the other 400-metre runners but I think they know and I know that I'm just not going to settle for a relay.

"I'd settle for a relay medal, brilliant, but I've always wanted to do an individual event. There is a spot there available, there's a couple of spots, there's three spots.

"I would love to make an individual final at that high level. I've run 50.33 in a four by four in Beijing so really I should run around 51. If I could run between 51 and 51-and-a-half this season that would be a really massive step forward."


Sotherton has adopted what she calls a "tortoise approach" to her new career.

"I'm an injury-prone athlete and I want to take things slowly," she said. "I've had to learn things a lot more slowly so my body has had a chance to adapt.

"It's kind of worked so far, it's been five months that I've been training and we're getting there and I haven't really missed any training."

Whatever happens over the next 18 months, Sotherton plans to end her athletics career with an heptathlon.

"I was always going to end after 2012 because of my age. I will be nearly 36," she said.

"After London I would like to finish my career with a heptathlon. It's not going to be serious, I want to end on an event I love doing. Just one."


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