A step closer to the shot of a lifetime

Less than one leap year stands between our athletes and the possibility of Olympic glory on home soil.

By this time next year the London Games' opening ceremony will be done and dusted – along with a clutch of women's preliminary football matches – and sport's greatest stage will be lit for all the world to see, day and night.

A home Olympics is so much more than the chance of a lifetime, a fact not lost on anyone eyeing up an appearance in Stratford.

That eventual Team GB crew will include a host of competitors from this region – competitors already dreaming of global success, but with their friends and family only a matter of yards away.

The fact the Games are now months rather than years away is only adding fuel to the flames.


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Attleborough's Paralympic shot putter Danny Nobbs can certainly feel the heat of the Olympic torch already. But for now, shutting it out is the key.

'At the moment it's almost trying not to get too carried away because for me personally, the first objective is to make it into the team,' said Nobbs.

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'Competition for places is going to be very fierce and Team GB are one of the strongest countries in the world, for the Paralympics especially.

'So to be a part of it will be an honour and something that would be really hard earned. That's the first objective and once I've done that, we will start focusing on medals at the end of it.'

Lowestoft boxer Anthony Ogogo, the Norwich duo of long distance runner Barbara Parker and cyclist Emma Pooley are among Norfolk's leading medal contenders in 12 months' time.

The pressure and attention on them, both nationally and locally, will be incredible.

Yet, for any sport, 12 months is a very long time – injury and loss of form can rob anyone of their dream as quickly as chance and opportunism might provide it.

In that regard, the London Olympics is just any normal event – at least until it arrives.

'Maintaining focus will be such a demanding part of it,' said Nobbs, 31. 'Obviously with the hype around the Games and everybody is start to get excited, and rightly so, it is important for the athletes to not get carried away and think too far ahead at this stage.

'We've still got a 12-month run into 2012 and a lot can happen in that time, so it's maintaining that focus, your training and performances over that period before the Games.'

Nobbs added: 'Without a doubt, success for any of us would put the region on the map and I think for every athlete going into the Games, whether Paralympics or Olympics, to win a gold medal in London will be an absolute dream come true.

'And for the area as well, for all the people who have helped support those athletes and helped to get them where they are, it is a real case of repaying their faith in us.

'It will make it an even more special occasion, to have so many of your friends and family and people who have supported you, having them in the stadium watching you compete… it will be a dream come true.'

The journey from here to next summer will vary too.

For Nobbs the helping hand has come from his full-time employers Aviva, giving him the year off to help his Paralympic preparations – in return for acting as the company's athletics ambassador, which also explains the first appearance of a television advert featuring Attleborough's British number one last night.

Rules changes mean a few tweaks to Nobbs' technique ahead of next summer, but he has no worries his new coach Tim Newenham – who led England through last year's Commonwealth Games in Delhi – will see him through.

'I'm confident we've got more than enough time to work with my new frame and build up the distances to what I had thrown before and then beyond,' added Nobbs, who finished fifth in Beijing three years ago.

'Medal targets are out of my mind because I don't want to be thinking too far ahead. I know how much hard work has got to go in before I'm going to be at a stage where I am competing for medals and I am more than up for the challenge.

'I am just really looking forward to it.'

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