• Kelly Sotherton's Olympic column

'I am in better shape now than I was in 2008'

Kelly Sotherton January 10, 2012
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So 2012 has finally come around, and suddenly the Olympics feel a whole lot closer, and after a few days off over the festive period I am refreshed and raring to go.

I had an enforced break over Christmas because the track was closed. I didn't really want to take the time off, but it has been a long winter and the break did me the world of good. I went home briefly to the Isle of Wight to see my family over Christmas - I got the last ferry over on Christmas Eve and the first out on Boxing Day - I don't like to leave my cats for too long!

I had a quiet New Year's Eve. My boyfriend and I went to a friend's house to play some board games for a couple of hours and then we came home before midnight and watched Jools Holland. I love my ginger beer so I had a couple of Crabbies, but that was it. Call me boring but I'd much rather wake up on New Year's Day feeling good and start the year on a high rather than feel absolutely rubbish all day with a hangover.

I wrote '2012' for the first time in my training diary last week and that was a big moment. It suddenly feels a whole lot closer. It's scary to think that it was nearly seven years ago that London won the bid to host the 2012 Olympics - it has gone so quickly. It is 28 weeks to go until the Olympics and I just know that this year is going to race by.

I refuse to make any New Year's resolutions related to training, but I am determined to keep my car clean this year. The back seat is always covered in kit, mail and goodness knows what else. I am pleased to report that so far, so good! My other promise is to learn a new recipe every week. I got a Lorraine Pascale cookbook for Christmas so I am determined to expand my repertoire in the kitchen! Other than that, I will try to be nicer to people and think before I speak!

Forget about gold medals, I know if my body can stay in one piece, the rest will follow

If I could have one wish for 2012 it would be for my body to survive the year. Forget about gold medals, I know if my body can stay in one piece, the rest will follow. I know I can do the rest, so my health is all I can wish for.

Of course I've had a few niggles but all in all my body has survived the last three months and I'm delighted with that - I couldn't ask for a better start to the Olympic year. I think I've only missed three or four training sessions so I think I deserve a pat on the back!

Just before Christmas I had my regular tests, analysing my fitness, strength and speed tests and I am in a better physical shape than I thought and confident that all my training is pointing in the right direction. Mentally I know I am in a healthier position. I have better focus and I have learnt how to do my event better - and ironically that came as a result of having time away from the sport with injury.

That's what time off can do for you. It allows you to take a step back and put things into perspective. Over Christmas I was able to look at what I have done over the last few months and reassess my achievements and goals. It's been slow progress, but I'd much rather take steady steps forward than rush forward only to have to take two or three steps back.

Sotherton is has returned to the heptathlon in a bid to qualify for London 2012 © Getty Images

The New Year is a great time to start looking ahead; the days are getting longer again and spring is only two-and-a-half months away. I am planning on competing in my first heptathlon in May and I may do a few indoor hurdles or throwing competitions before that.

The important thing is to keep myself in top shape. The temptation will be to get plenty of competition under my belt and risk running myself ragged. If I can make the Olympic qualification mark at the first attempt, that will give me three months to play with. I don't want to peak too early and burn out before the big day.

I'm into my last year as a professional athlete and so I'm trying to make sure I enjoy every moment. I'm not emotional about it because I'm looking forward to the summer. I get asked if it is a good idea announcing my retirement before London 2012, but I think it is a positive thing.

I'm enjoying training and loving doing the heptathlon again, it's like there was a part of me missing last year. I am trying to make sure I take everything in and remember it all. It has been a privilege to be a full-time professional athlete and I am determined to make every session count.

And of course, I'm only 99.99% certain about retirement - I might change my mind...

Kelly is an ambassador for sports performance brand, ASICS.

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.