MARCH athlete Louise Hazel is ready to rumble as her dream comes true to compete in the 2012 London Olympics in two days’ time.
The 26-year-old former Neale-Wade pupil, whose mother still runs the Station Hotel in March, won gold in the heptathlon at the Commonwealth Games in India almost two years ago and is now looking for another big performance this week too at the greatest sporting show on earth.
Hazel said: “I have always dreamed of competing in the Olympics since I first took up athletics as a 10-year-old with March Athletic Club. It was my first taste of athletics and I enjoyed the friendly atmosphere at the club.”
She then progressed to Peterborough AC and then on Birchfield Harriers when she went to university in Birmingham and is a graduate in French studies.
Hazel will be up against her close friend and Britain’s number one in the event Jessica Ennis when they will be competing in seven disciplines over the Friday and Saturday. First up will be the 100m hurdles with the final event the 800m on Saturday evening.
Hazel said: “It has been a long and hard journey to get to this point and I have had to make some big sacrifices along the way. I have trained and worked for it all my life and I’m very grateful to be a part of the Games in front of a home crowd. It’s a cliche to say it is a once in a lifetime opportunity but that is the way I see it.”
The only real disappointment for Hazel this week is that her father will not be there to see her perform. He died four years ago and she said: “It is devastating because he would loved to have been there. However my Mum and nan will be in the crowd shouting no doubt!”
Hazel has a personal best of 6,166 points in the event and that is some way short of the total usually required to finish among the medals, but as in India she always seems to rise to the big occasion and said: “I want to perform well in all the events and hopefully I can pull off a few personal bests along the way. If I was to achieve this then it would catapult me into the top 10 or even top eight and that would be an absolute dream come true.
“My training has been geared to peak as the games begin and I have been looking for sharpness for the past few weeks and I feel I am starting to get there.
“I thrive on pressure so my season doesn’t really get going until I’ve got my GB vest on and I’m stepping out in front of a big crowd. Your life as an athlete does not last forever so I’m determined to make the most of every moment.”
Hazel hopes her previous top-level outings will help her take the whole experience in her stride. She has admitted to being overwhelmed when she touched down in Delhi for the Commonwealth Games two years ago, but shrugged aside those feelings to grab the gold medal with a then PB of 6,156 points.
She added: “I can’t make the mistake of thinking about the scale of the Olympic Games. I have to go out there and focus on my own performance just as I do every time I compete.
“I’m up against girls I’ve competed alongside before at major events so there is no change there.
“I’m very grateful to have this opportunity especially after missing out in 2008 which was a massive disappointment.”