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Kelly Sotherton

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Kelly Sotherton is an Olympic and World Championship medal winning athlete. Writing for ESPN, Sotherton will give a personal insight into her life as an athlete.

  • Kelly Sotherton's Olympic column

'If I were an Arsenal player I'd probably be Alex Song'

Kelly Sotherton February 7, 2012
Get to know ESPN columnist Kelly Sotherton

London 2012 keeps edging closer and as the weeks go by my training gets a bit more technical. Having built up my strength, stamina and fitness over the winter I am now focusing on more specific event training: the hurdles, the high jump, long jump, shot put and javelin.

I haven't forgotten how to do the heptathlon but now that I have got my body used to going through those motions again I now need to concentrate on refining techniques. In all honesty the event I expected to be the hardest to get back into has turned out to be one of the easiest. I am a bit of a scaredy-cat when it comes to the hurdles I always worry about hitting them at speed, but the training has been going well.

I was planning on competing in a shot put competition at a couple of indoor events but I am not quite ready and I don't want to compete for the sake of it so I've decided to wait until the outdoor season comes around in the spring. It's a shame to miss my final indoor season but there are more important times ahead in the summer. There's no rush.

Off the track I am ridiculously superstitious but I try not to let it affect me in sport. All athletes have their habits and routines but it's dangerous to get into the situation where your preparations are heavily reliant on variable factors. Say you leave your lucky socks behind, or a rival has taken your usual spot, you shouldn't let that get in your way.

Having those superstitions adds to the stress and is unnecessary - you have to be flexible and not rely on factors that you cannot control. I'll salute magpies and I'm terrified of a black cat crossing my path, but as soon as I turned professional I swore I wouldn't let superstitions hinder my career.

Kelly Sotherton's ultimate relay team

Tyson Gay, Asafa Powell, Usain Bolt and Carl Lewis would be a devastating 4x100m relay team © Getty Images
  • Usain Bolt, the fastest man in the world, would be the first name on everybody's list. Throw in Asafa Powell, Tyson Gay and Carl Lewis and I think you've got a pretty awesome foursome.
  • Bolt may be the fastest man in the world but he runs a great bend so I'd put him on the third leg. Gay is a good starter so he can run first; handing over to Powell and Lewis can take the anchor leg because he is a legend.
  • You may have the fastest four men on the planet but if they can't get the baton round it doesn't matter. The baton changes can make the difference between glory and humiliation. That said, I know for a fact that the Jamaicans - the best relay team in history - don't really practise their handovers. The British team can practice thousands of times and they still manage to drop the baton!
  • Bottom line is you have to trust your team-mates. You don't have to be best mates with the person handing over to you but you have to have the confidence that they will do their job while you concentrate on your own.
  • A great example of that is the Dutch team back in 2003 - they weren't particularly fast but their changeovers were phenomenal and they won world bronze - in that race the Brits were disqualified and the Jamaicans did not finish.

Away from the track I've been doing a few bits and pieces and have been thinking about my career path after I hang up my spikes. I was on the television last week appearing in a TV show for CBBC called Ultimate Sports Day. It was devised by my agent, Jonathan Marks, to get kids into sport and give them a taste of being in that kind of environment, competing against each other and as part of a team.

We filmed it back in October and it was great fun, although I'm not sure I am a natural coach! I've done a few photo shoots and did a Q&A at the Royal Albert Hall with Beth Tweddle, Phillips Idowu, Andrew Steele and Seb Coe. It was quite a daunting prospect to get up on stage in front of 3500 people, but it was fun and the feedback has been positive which is good to hear.

It's been a good opportunity for me to consider what I am going to do at the end of the season because if you don't plan for your retirement you will waste two years thinking about what you're going to do after you do call it a day.

I can't just assume everything's going to work itself out; I need to be sensible and make sure I have a few things in place. I've been fortunate to have the opportunity to try a few different paths to work out what I am good at and what suits my personality.

Next week I'm hopefully going to be working for Channel 4 as a pundit on the coverage of the World Indoor Trials and UK Championships. I'll be in the studio having my two-penneth - I think I'll be good at that - I'm not short of an opinion!

I was so jealous when I saw Mo Farah had been training with Arsenal last week. I am a massive Gunners fan and I couldn't believe he had managed to wangle that! Thierry Henry is a massive hero of mine and I would love the chance to meet him.

I've been lucky enough to sit in the directors box and to meet Arsene Wenger, but I've not had the chance to try and impress him with my skills! To be honest I think I'm the kind of person who would get sent off within the first five minutes - I'm sure I would overreact as soon as I got tackled!

I train in the gym with the Birmingham City ladies but I've never really played. I guess I'd have to be a midfielder - running around the pitch I'd be the engine of the team. I'd love to say I'd be Cesc Fabregas but I think I'd be more of a defensive lynchpin like Alex Song. Then again maybe I would be better off in goal - thinking about my strengths I'm a pretty good jumper so I could leap around to make saves and maybe my individual mentality is better suited to being a keeper.

Kelly is an ambassador for sports performance brand, ASICS.

Kelly Sotherton is a GB Olympic medalist

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Kelly Sotherton is a GB Olympic medalist Kelly Sotherton is an Olympic and World Championship medal winning athlete. Writing for ESPN, Sotherton will give a personal insight into her life as an athlete.