• Kelly Sotherton's Olympic column

Seeing the silver lining

Kelly Sotherton July 15, 2011
Kelly Sotherton is bidding to make the 2012 Olympics at 400m © Getty Images

Since my last column I've had a few setbacks, but I set a season's best time in Germany and I'm gearing up for my last race before the UK trials for the World Championships later this season.

I travelled to Turin for my next meeting feeling confident, but after breakfast but I came down with food poisoning and was too ill to race. I was gutted because I had gone all the way to Italy; was feeling good and missed a great opportunity to get a good time.

That had a knock-on effect as consequently I missed out on the European Team Championships in Stockholm. I thought I was going to get into the relay team but the selectors decided to give someone else a chance.

It was disappointing to go all the way to Sweden and not compete. It meant I missed out on two runs - and at this time of year it can be really damaging. If you're not running good times it is hard to find races in Europe. There aren't that many 400m races and there seems to be fewer every year. What it means is you have around 150 people fighting for very limited places.

Organisers want the fastest runners in their races but it's a vicious circle because I haven't had the opportunity to run. I did manage to get one race in Cottbus in Germany. The standard wasn't that high and I won by over a second. I ran 52.51 seconds which is a season's best but the conditions weren't good at all, but it gives me a lot of confidence because I know I can go much faster in good conditions.

Success is about being mentally as well as physically fit

I would have loved to run in the Diamond League meeting in Birmingham last weekend - but I am realistic and I know the Diamond League is not like any other grand prix events. Eight of the top ten 400m runners in the world were running in that race, and I know I am not at that level - at least not yet. If someone had pulled out last minute I thought I may get a phone call as I only live around the corner, but it wasn't to be.

I am a terrible spectator and hate being in the stadium when I'm not competing - I get really fidgety - so I spent the day in Stratford-upon-Avon with my boyfriend and watched the highlights when I got home. The stadium looked stunning - it would have been amazing to be there competing.

I have a 200m race this weekend in Bedford, which will be my last competition before the UK Trials at the end of July. I'm feeling good and it has been great to put some extra training in. I am quietly confident and believe that I can make the team for the World Championships. Obviously I have kept up to date with how the other girls who I will be racing against have been doing and I believe that it is going to be a really exciting battle - I definitely will be in the mix.

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Things may not have gone entirely to plan over the last few weeks, but there are plenty of positives to take away nonetheless. I'm not injured- I'm in good shape and have been training well - and because I haven't done as many races I have been able to train harder and work on my weaknesses.

Staying positive is key, and my work with psychologist Mark Bellamy has really helped me. I first met Mark back in 2004 before I won bronze in the Athens Olympics and his input was invaluable. I started working with him again about a year ago.

Many people think that seeing a psychologist is lying on a couch and talking about problems, but it is one of the most underrated aspects of being a professional athlete. It might seem like a negative way of approaching a race, but if you have already considered every problem that might arise and know how to deal with it then no matter what happens you are prepared and I find it to be an excellent motivator.

Having been injured for the last three seasons staying positive has been crucial. I came so close to calling it a day and retiring, but working with him I was able to stay positive and I know that I can figure out my own problems. The funding from the National Lottery, and more recently Team 2012, has enabled me to access these types of support services

When you are in a final, any one of those eight athletes on the start line has a chance. It is not just about talent or how fast you are, it is how you cope under pressure.

Asafa Powell is often used as an example of an athlete who has perhaps not quite lived up to his potential. He could, and perhaps should be, two or three time world champion and maybe even Olympic champion by now, but for some reason, he just doesn't quite do it on the big stage. It is all about being mentally as well as physically fit.

To keep up to date with all 1,200 Team 2012 athletes visit www.facebook.com/team2012visa

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.