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  1. Anna Chicherova is in top formGreat to see so many of the world's best athletes competing indoors - yes, that might sound a little patronising but so many athletes wrap themselves up in cotton wool during the winter months and train without testing their bodies with healthy international competition.

    With both the World Indoor Champs and the London 2012 Olympics taking place within the next six months, many stars are already showing excellent early form ahead of these global events.

    Anna Chicherova will surely trouble the outdoor High Jump World Record in 2012 as she has cleared 2.06m indoors (just 3cm off the outdoor mark) and she has arguably looked the best of all thus far. There have been notable breakthroughs for British athletes with Robbie Grabarz raising his PB to a formidable 2.34m and Holly Bleasdale scaling 4.87m in the Pole Vault to go 3rd on the all-time indoor lists.

    It will be fascinating to see how the indoor season pans out as we build up to Istanbul (9-11 March 2012) - I just hope every athlete can get through to London 2012 without injury however it's inevitable some dreams will be shattered on the road to the Olympics. Plenty more twists and turns to come as the greatest show on earth comes to the English capital...

  2. London 2012 gets ever closerSo, it's finally arrived... 2012 is almost here. When it was announced that London would host the 2012 Summer Olympic Games back in 2005 it seemed an absolute lifetime away. In fact, the next six and a half years has whizzed by and we are only 215 days from the start of the athletics action. Just over seven months until the greatest show on earth gets underway.

    Thinking back, I can remember that magical moment so clearly - the joy I felt was quite overpowering and the sense of expectation was incredible. Only when the Opening Ceremony takes place will I start to genuinely believe that it's actually happening; there is still a certain about of disbelief, which is strange for someone who has visited the Olympic site on countless occasions over the past couple of years!

    Obviously, 2012 is not just about the Olympics - we have a European Championships before then, a World Indoors and also a World Junior Champs however to most people, just the mention of 2012 is synonymous with the Games and that is that.

    London 2012 will truly be a phenomenal specatacle which I'm sure will be a huge success, not least for the GB & NI team, who should enjoy their best athletics medal haul for many years, possible ever. It will come around in a flash and we are all ready to host the world's best athletes in the great city of London. Bring it on!

  3. Sally Pearson had a fantastic 2011 seasonWith 2011 almost over, it's the perfect time to reflect on another hugely entertaining season in athletics and I felt the best way to do this is give out a few 'awards' in certain categories as follows:

    Male Athlete of the Year
    This is a tricky one as nobody has completely shone throughout the season but I would have to award it to Great Britain's Mo Farah following his distance exploits in Daegu (2011 World Champs) where he took a gold and silver in the 5000m and 10,000m respectively. He smashed the European Record in the 10,000m and lowered his own 5000m British Record in an incredible season.

    Female Athlete of the Year

    A much easier choice here - Sally Pearson totally dominated the 100m Hurdles in 2011 and moved to 4th on the all-time lists following her sensational 12.28 clocking to win gold at the World Champs. She regularly ran in the 12.5 region and displayed remarkable consistency throughout the season.

    Young Male Athlete of the Year
    Very close to call as Kirani James enjoyed a fantastic season in the 400m however I'd like to award this to Germany's David Storl for becoming World Champion in the Shot Putt at the age of just 21 - this is remarkable considering that throwers are traditionally at their strongest around the age of 30. He should definitely be one to watch in 2012...

    Young Female Athlete of the Year
    Esthera Petre of Romania entered 2011 with a PB of 1.88m and improved to 1.92m (indoors) in February. She then jumped a superb 1.98m to smash her lifetime best by 6cm and win the European U23 title in Ostrava. This height places her equal 5th on the 2011 world rankings and the 21-year-old could well challenge the 'big two' of Chicherova and Vlasic in 2012 if she continues to develop as an athlete.

    Performance of the Year
    There can arguably be only one - Yohan Blake's scorching 19.26 (0.7m/s) in Brussels on 16 September 2011 got within 0.07secs of Usain Bolt's World Record mark and took many people by surprise. The duel between the two Jamaicans in 2012 should be one of the greatest battles in any discipline.

  4. James Ellington is world-classThe recent story of 26-year-old British sprinter James Ellington seeking sponsorship through eBay in order to continue training and competing in 2012 did not surprise or shock me but made me draw some interesting comparisons between athletics and other sports.

    The amount that Ellington sought (£30,000) would cover all expenses and provide a wage of £15,000 for one season. A modest sum by anyone's standards but when you consider that the top footballers is this country are wided reported to earn up to £250,000 per week, this equates to eight years in athletics terms. Eight years... that's basically an entire career at the top for most athletes... in ONE WEEK.

    Clearly athletics is on another planet compared to football in terms of finances (and has been for many years) but the fact that one of our best sprinters has to resort to this is still depressing.

    With so much lottery cash being used to create local sports schemes, facilities and initiatives to generate interest in the younger generation, it is sad that when athletes such as Ellington develop into world-class performers they do not receive the same funding and help now that they are actually 'there'.

    Of course, attracting youngters into sport is of paramount importance but this support must continue all the way through their careers - this could not be more true on the dawn of the London 2012 Olympics, which will be the most significant event in the UK for decades.

    All the best Mr Ellington and I really hope things will work out fine for you next year!

  5. Rome - beautiful city and top athletics meetingDecember is arguably the quietest month for athletics in the entire year - track athletes are in the middle of their winter training or preparing for the indoor season while most of the major city marathons and road races have already taken place in the autumn. It is, however a time to reflect on a hugely successful 2011 season and look forward to great things ahead in 2012...

    2012 will provide one of the finest selection of world-class athletics events ever seen with the Olympics, European Championships, World Indoor Champs and World Junior Champs to look forward to in addition to the Diamond League and World Challenge series.

    Having booked both Monaco and Brussels (Diamond League meetings), I was planning on adding Rome to my foreign excursions next year and will investigate that over the next week. I met an Italian athletics fan in Paris this summer at the Stade de France and it would certainly make sense to meet up in the Eternal City for the 31st May meeting in 2012 - that's the beauty of athletics, you get to mix with so many like-minded athletics supporters from all over Europe and beyond.

    Also whilst in Paris this year I met a lovely couple from near Cambridge and we arranged to get together in Brussels for the Diamond League meeting. We may well all share a foreign athletics adventure or two next year!

  6. One of the true greats in the High JumpSince November is traditionally one of the quietest months in the athletics calendar, I thought I would take the opportunity to look back and remember the career of one of the sport's great heroes from the past ten years - Stefan Holm.

    Holm, now 35, was simply one of the most consistent and inspirational High Jumpers from 2000 until he announced his retirement after the 2008 season. He was a legend in his native Sweden and has the distinction of sharing the unofficial World Record of height jumped above his own height (59cm). At just under 6-feet tall (1.81m), Holm was not a typical build for the High Jump however he made up for this with a fast, attacking approach and incredible lift at take-off, combined with faultless technique. He was famous for adopting a pre-jump ritual that he conducted immediately before setting off on each attempt, which included adjusting his vest, wiping his face and putting his hand through his hair - it became his trademark.

    One of the most remarkable training sessions Holm undertook was hurdling over homemade barriers that scaled around 1.85m - this clip on YouTube has now been viewed over 1.3 million times. See the video here

    Holm's first taste of Olympic action came in 2000, when he finished a creditable 4th with a best clearance of 2.32m in Sydney. Less than a year later and he became World Indoor Champion in Lisbon - a title he would go on to win a further three times (2003, 2004 and 2008). Indeed, his lifetime best of 2.40m was set indoors when Holm won the 2005 European Indoor Champs in Madrid. Only Ivan Ukhov has also cleared 2.40m indoors since Javier Sotomayor's 2.43m World Indoor Record (set in 1989). His outdoor best was 2.37m.

    The most significant achievement of Holm's career came in 2004 at the Athens Olympics - he went clear at 2.36m to take gold and realise his childhood dream. At the Beijing Games of 2008 Holm finished agonisingly in 4th position with a best of 2.32m, representing an exact copy of his performance in 2000. In total, Holm won an impressive 11 medals at major championships, including seven golds.

    Stefan Holm really did enjoy a superb decade as one of the leading lights in the men's High Jump and his achievements were all the more astonishing taking into account his diminutive stature among fellow jumpers.

    Thank you, Stefan, for entertaining the athletics world and adding such a great deal to your chosen discipline... and I still believe you should be recognised as the best jumper of all-time given your height!