London 2012 Olympics preview: Barbara Parker’s best is yet to come

When you sit down and think about it, getting yourself right to be in with a medal chance at an Olympics is a fraught business. Possibly just a few minutes of competition every four years and the aim is to not only be fit, healthy and experienced – but to be at the very peak of your ability.

All you have to do after that is deliver: far from an exact science in itself. Still, there really is little more City of Norwich Athletic Club's Barbara Parker could do to get into the zone. Now based in Atlanta, she broke the British 3,000m steeplechase record earlier this year Stateside – meaning she is officially in the form of her life. And perhaps most usefully, she has the experience of four years ago safely stowed away to call upon for London – a Games where no additional thought, pressure or hyperbole is required.

'For Beijing I hyped it up thinking 'it's the Olympic Games and it's going to be something different', but it's really just another race,' said Parker – world number seven at steeplechase, who then has the bonus of turning her hand to the 5,000m when her big race is run.

'I've just got to stay calm and collected…there's really not that much distance between me and the six people ahead of me. I definitely don't feel I've run my fastest time of the season yet.'

The Pott Row runner only took in the steeplechase heats in Beijing, but is hoping for much more than that in London. And it may be her form can carry on into the 5,000m, where Parker came second to Jo Pavey at the UK Trials last month – her form allowed her to ignore the steeplechase.

Whichever race, the familiarity of competing at her second Olympics is almost certain to help: 'I always picture myself thinking 'wow, I've just got a medal' and doing a lap of honour. Every athlete visualises winning. If you don't, you're never going to do it.

'I've got a big advantage in the fact that I've been to an Olympics before. Beijing is going to have a huge value on anxiety, nerves – I'll just know what to expect.'

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Sport: Athletics – Women's 3,000m steeplechase, 5,000m. From: Pott Row. Age: 29

Schedule (Olympic Stadium) – 3,000m steeplechase: Saturday, August 4 – 11.35am Round One; Monday, August 6 – 9.05pm Final. 5,000m: Tuesday, August 7 – 10.55am Round One; Friday, August 10 – 8.05pm Final.