April 24 2014 Latest news:
Michael Bailey , London Olympics correspondent
Thursday, June 28, 2012
Barbara Parker believes this summer’s London Olympics will be the perfect time to cash in on her Beijing experience four years ago.
The City of Norwich Athletic Club runner booked safe passage for this summer’s Games in one event – and should be a shoo-in for selection in another – after the weekend’s UK Athletics Trials in Birmingham.
And the 29-year-old believes making her Olympic debut in China will really pay off when she heads to the athletes’ village at Stratford for the first time.
“Going to the Olympics is like nothing else,” said Parker, now based in the US city of Atlanta. “Even with the World Championships it’s just not the same.
“I’m really glad I have Beijing as an experience and I think when you ask a lot of other athletes, they will say the same thing. It really is this case where you can gain a lot of edge on other people because you’ve just got that experience in your own mind that you’ve been there before.
“When I went to Birmingham it was Olympic advertising every where – but as I’ve been to the Olympics before, I’m not creating this big hyped event in my mind.
“I did that for Beijing and you are so anxious to run that when you get to the line, you’re almost tired because you are so excited. You’ve created all this energy. So I’m just trying to think about it as another race really.”
Parker’s London focus will be the 3,000m steeplechase; the one event she ran in Beijing, exiting 12th in the heats. However, the City of Norwich runner is also eyeing the chance to double up with the 5,000m this summer: the heats for the latter start the day after the steeplechase final, in the Olympic Stadium on August 6.
Parker is ranked 10th in the world in the steeplechase and already had the Olympic qualifying standard heading into the weekend’s trials – hence her decision to run only the 5,000m in Birmingham and bid for selection in her second event.
It was mission accomplished too – although she lost out on victory after Jo Pavey took the lead from her on the final bend.
“I definitely wanted to go for the win and as soon as I crossed the line I knew I should’ve either gone a bit earlier or just left it right until the home straight,” bemoaned Parker.
“But I just needed to be top two to gain automatic selection for the 5,000m and that was the main goal really. Jo is not exactly an athlete I wouldn’t expect to beat me, so I’m happy for her and just to be top two – that was the main goal.”
And while there was palpable tension during the trials, everyone knows the stakes rise considerably ahead of this year’s headline act.
“I’m hoping to get selected for both events,” admitted Parker. “Sunday gave me automatic selection for the 5k and I’ll definitely be hoping to get selected for the steeplechase because it’s still my main goal.
“I just didn’t want to run it at the trials because I knew it wouldn’t be a fast race. It is a lot of stress on your body and really can cause injury running a really slow steeplechase, especially with the water jump. So with wanting to get selection for the 5k, I decided to go for that.
“I’m hoping to get selected for both and in London the steeplechase heats and final are before the 5k, so I can focus solely on that before running the 5k.
“If it was the 5k first, I probably wouldn’t do it because the steeple is my main focus for this year – so the fact it’s first allows me to do both hopefully.”
Team GB is expected to confirm its athletics squad on July 3, and with Parker back in the UK from her Stateside base she will make the most of her Norfolk return – including the hospitality of her family at Pott Row near King’s Lynn, and weekly training at the UEA Sportspark with her old City of Norwich team-mates and under the watchful eyes of coaches Tim and Pauline Ash.
Parker added: “It’s really nice to have a familiar thing to come back to. I’ve known Tim and Pauline since I was about 12 and for me to go there every week knowing I’ve got people to pace me in my sessions.
“Tim and Pauline are in touch with my coach back in the US, so it’s really nice to know they can give some feedback to him and I can be around people who really know who you are and you can trust them.
“It’s really nice at the UEA too. The track is new and you’ve got tthe park there too to do your warm-up and warm-down; it’s great.”