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This close to the Olympics, the athletics world picks over the bones of every performance with an obsessive eye.

At this stage of the game, it's too late to squeeze in a life-changing block of training. It's all about moving into top form, avoiding injury and maybe gaining a psychological edge over your rivals.

For all three of Britain's big gold medal hopes, the London Grand Prix on Friday night seemed at first glance to fulfil that role.

Kelly Sotherton after her hurdles race was abandoned

Kelly Sotherton jumped a personal best in the long jump. Phillips Idowu extended his unbeaten run in the triple jump. And Christine Ohuruogu clocked a season's best in seeing off Nicola Sanders in the 400m.

That's how it appeared on the surface. The reality was somewhat dicier.

Sotherton, for starters, was left fuming after a shocking error from track officials saw the third set of barriers in her 100m hurdles race placed at least a metre out of position.

To an outsider that might not seem like much. To hurdlers, who thrive on rhythm and a set stride pattern, it could have spelled disaster - a pulled muscle, a calamitous fall, the end of the Olympic dream.

"I am totally fed up," Sotherton raged afterwards. "The long jump went so well but they have ruined the hurdles, and now I'm just angry."

For Idowu, who has said this season that he feels "bullet-proof", there were initially worrying signs of the old inconsistency that used to dog him.

He failed to record a mark with his first and third jumps, striding over to coach Aston Moore in the stands in an attempt to work out what was going wrong.

Going into the fourth round he was trailing in third place. The Crystal Palace crowd were almost hushed as he tore down the runway for his next attempt.

When he sailed out to a mark of 17.41m, the roar told of relief - and a certain vindication of the confidence he's shown all summer long.

"I didn't know what the problem was at first," he said. "I had to wait a bit to get going. But I've been saying all year that I feel, regardless of what anyone else does, I'm not going to lose. That's a nice way to finish before Beijing."

The positives for Ohuruogu were the win and the defeat of Sanders in the first race between the pair since they won gold and silver at the World Championships last summer.

What wasn't so hot was the time. It was a good night for 400m running - 21 degrees, not too humid, no blustery wind - but neither Briton left satisfied with their performance.

"I'm not happy. I'll go back and analyse things with my coach," promised Ohuruogu.

"I'm not very pleased," said Sanders. "It's been three and a half weeks since my last race and I never really got into it."

What did give cause for optimism was the memory of their preparations last year. Sanders had a stinker at Crystal Palace a year ago, trailing home way down the field, while Ohuruogu was yet to run competitively after her 12-month ban for missing three drugs test - and from that they went on to top the world.

Elsewhere, it was a good night for Jamaican sprinters and a bad one for Americans.

Asafa Powell's 9.94secs victory in the 100m wasn't a surprise in the absence of world champion Tyson Gay (injured) and world record holder Usain Bolt (entered only in Saturday's 200m) but, following his defeat of Bolt in Stockholm on Tuesday, it did provide more evidence that he's finally ready to take his first global sprint title.

What was a shock was the thrashing world champion Allyson Felix in the 200m. The favourite for gold in Beijing trailed home fourth behind Jamaican rival Sherone Simpson and left the track shaking her head.

Simpson, by contrast, knew what the scalp meant. "It gives me a lot more confidence going into the Olympics," she beamed. "Having this win against this competition is a great boost for me."

Form, injury-free and an edge. It's what they're all after.

Tom Fordyce is a BBC Sport journalist covering a wide range of events in Beijing. Our FAQs should answer any questions you have.


Comments

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  • 1. At 10:46pm on 25 Jul 2008, potrodelpicasso wrote:

    Where are our middle-distance runners? Throwers? Walkers? The UK has athletes and good luck to them, but so few! Snooker and darts?

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  • 2. At 11:22pm on 25 Jul 2008, Dave Harris wrote:

    Andy Baddely did well to been Bernard Lagat in the Mile, and we had some good performances by the women in longer distances than the 400m (Lisa Dobriskey won the 1500m and Barbara Parker did well in the Steeplechase).

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  • 3. At 11:50am on 26 Jul 2008, Shearer_legend wrote:

    Just so you know, it's the 100m Hurdles in the Women's event, not 110m.

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  • 4. At 1:47pm on 26 Jul 2008, Ian W - BBC Sport wrote:

    Good spot Shearer_legend.

    Apologies for that - we are correcting this now.

    Thanks.

    Ian.

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  • 5. At 5:09pm on 26 Jul 2008, levdavidovich wrote:

    Typical British incompetance - not putting the hurdles in the right place. The BOC has asked for 100,000 volunteers for London 2012 - will they all be thick?

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  • 6. At 5:11pm on 26 Jul 2008, garbettn wrote:

    Why does it take so many "pundits" to cover this event for BBC TV and 5 live and why is now an ex boxer doing the interviews on the track? I think BBC sport needs a real shake up in terms of personnel. There are just too many ex athletes and sportsmen on the gravy train of punditism - what has happened to real journalists. Are the BBC worried that they might have a genuine opinion rather than the obvious questions - How are you feeling? No doubt we have more of this to come when the real Olympics start.

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  • 7. At 6:00pm on 26 Jul 2008, rotorhead57 wrote:

    If you want something to complain about you should ask why it takes >420 BBC personnel to cover the Olympics when there are only 320 or so athletes.

    Gravy train or what? Its it good to know the license fee is well spent.

    Why do they need two commentators, at least two wittering on in the stand and another one on the field asking banal questions !!

    It was the same with football and no British team qualified. Most of the 'analysis' could be done in the UK and save the club class flights and posh hotels.

    About time they made the BBC pay its own way.

    Good luck to the Brits though

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  • 8. At 6:47pm on 26 Jul 2008, kj10987 wrote:

    We have just had two days of fantastic coverage from people who know what they are talking about!

    I wish people would stop complaining about the BBC. You wouldn't get the quality of coverage anywhere else in the UK, probably the world!

    I am training to a broadcast journalist, if anyone I should be complaining that there are no jobs for us...but two be honest the BBC provides such a fantastic service, it is something to aspire to!

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  • 9. At 7:41pm on 26 Jul 2008, U9563463 wrote:

    'The UK has athletes and good luck to them, but so few! Snooker and darts?'

    What?! Ummm, our cyclists, rowers and sailors are the best in the world. We will win plenty of medals thank you.

    'Typical British incompetance - not putting the hurdles in the right place. The BOC has asked for 100,000 volunteers for London 2012 - will they all be thick?'

    Again - what?! Britain is probably one of the best countries in the world at running sports events. From Wimbledon, Euro 96', rugby world cups, the football Premiership etc...

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  • 10. At 7:42pm on 26 Jul 2008, rotorhead57 wrote:

    A bit biased wouldn't you say.

    I am a license fee payer and I resent my hard earned money being spend on a juncket for mass ranks of BBC staff. They could equally do what they do if they stayed in the UK. I am sure they could still provide 'a fantastic service'. Why do you need to be in the stadium or even in the same country to provide so call expert analysis ? All they ever do is look at the TV replays anyway !

    You might have noticed at the recent European football championships the BBC had 6 or 7 people at each match whereas ITV had two commentators and all the analysis was done in a studio in the UK.

    Why can't the BBC do the same and save some money for real investigative journalism

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  • 11. At 04:30am on 27 Jul 2008, War Baby wrote:

    It never ceases to amuse me when people complain about their hard-earned licence fee money being misspent by the BBC. They singularly fail to realise that the ITV Company budgets (in most cases considerably larger than the BBC's) come from exactly the same source (albeit indirectly). But narry a complaint is heard about mis-funding.
    .
    What makes it even more ironic is that one can avoid the BBC licence fee (by shunning TV) but all consumers are likely to be totally unable to avoid funding "Independent" TV.
    .

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  • 12. At 09:15am on 27 Jul 2008, DaveC wrote:

    #10 ... you might then want to ask yourself why so many more people watched the BBC coverage than that provided by ITV.

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  • 13. At 09:34am on 27 Jul 2008, jodi1l wrote:

    Wish i could watch it on the BBC - but alas, not on any iplayer, virgin playback...

    is this what we can expect when the olympics are on?

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  • 14. At 10:10am on 27 Jul 2008, logicalopinion wrote:

    Is post number eight just trying to 'big up' the BBC'S coverage of the 'L.G.P', in the hope of getting a job.

    The BBC'S coverage, as usaul was rubbish! Lets have a few less meaningless interviews and the same old commentary 'clap-trap', and a lot more time spent on the coverage of all the events and maybe a few more of the other competitors taking part.

    There's absoloutly no drama or anticipation involved anymore, when all the camera does is focus on the usaual suspects.

    We may as well tell all the other competitors not to bother turning up to compete, as the BBC will only focus on a few events and only those athletes who are already winning or are representing Britain in Beiging.

    I like to watch a competition unfold, its all part of the viewing experience.

    One more thing - why did Cris Tommlinson get selected again? The guy only came fith in the trials and always seems to buckle under real competition.

    As I have mentioned in previous Blogs, the selectors only ever chose the usual suspects.

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  • 15. At 10:10am on 27 Jul 2008, danilosilva wrote:

    There's three comments on here about the BBC staying in the UK to do their job and one about Brits not being overly intelligent. This event was at Crystal Palace, which, last time I checked, was in the UK...

    As for "320 or so" competitors at the Olympics mentioned above, there will be 302 events at Beijing 2008 and I'm rather hoping it will be a little more competitive than that.

    The BBC do a great job. The ITV sports delivery is tacky and cheap and riddled with adverts. Sky Sports is not much better and tries to mould every sport into its football-style model. Plus is a hell of a lot more expensive than a TV licence.

    Further, this very BBC website is the world's most commonly viewed. How often do you check ITV.com?? Or maybe Channel5.com?? Thought so.

    Having lived in others countries too, I would take the Beeb over any other British or international broadcaster I have ever encountered. We should consider ourselves fortunate!

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  • 16. At 10:11am on 27 Jul 2008, garbettn wrote:

    To continue the thread - Fact is the BBC is a publicly funded organization and therefore accountable. I work for a public body who are also responsible to customers. Jobs in my organization however small are subject to strict policies including qualifications. Ex athletes, boxers, and footballers (many who have fortunes stacked away from endorsements and previous competition wins) do appear to be taking over from those with a real journalistic background. Rotorhead57 and I seem to be on the same wavelength on this one however I feel for kj10987 who should be fighting his case if he wants to work in his chosen field. Yes we need pundits but a requirement must be a journalistic qualification. Would the likes of xyz be prepared to attend university for 3 years post retirement.

    ... have to go now my agent has just phoned to say he has got me a £2000 gig commenting on the local croquet match!

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  • 17. At 10:49am on 27 Jul 2008, DJHDJH wrote:

    So you'd rather have journalists who in many cases will know very little about the events than the likes of Jonathan Edwards, Colin Jackson and Steve Backley talking about the events?

    Athletics events are technically very difficult to understand in great detail and I would be amazed if any journalist could learn about what is needed in the different events to the same level as people for whom that was their life for 10 years or so.

    I'm sure they have all had a level of media training and they add far more to the viewer's understanding of events than some professional journalist who has never done them.

    A generally positive 2 days for the British team with most athletes hitting some sort of form with Martyn Rooney the most impressive by his standards and Philips answering a lot of questions over whether he could come back in the later rounds. The target of 5 medals should be hit comfortably.

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  • 18. At 6:13pm on 27 Jul 2008, rotorhead57 wrote:

    Sorry danilosilva I meant that there were 300 or so UK altheletes and the point is that they are outnumbered by BBC personnel.

    Whereas we can decide whether to watch ITV or Sky or buy the goods from the companies who fund them we cannot do the same with the BBC. We are taxed to watch TV. As such I would like them to provide value for money and spend my money more wisely. Having numerous BBC commentators, summarizers, interviewers, news reporters etc etc on a junket to the Olympics seems a massive waste of money to me. They could as easily be based in the UK as they only ever watch replays of the action anyway.

    I remember during the World Cup in Germany a BBC sports reporter was summing up the action at Wimbledon from Munich. Why not the other way around ?

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  • 19. At 1:30pm on 28 Jul 2008, ormrodblue76 wrote:

    Ricki Yates was probably the best performance by a Brit at the meeting, I look forward to him making the final in the Olympics , I good performance in Bejing will give hime the necessary experience for London 2012..........

    What's that i'm hearing UKA have left him out the squad and Dave Collins didn't even have the bottle to apologise to him.

    As long as he's in charge UKA will be going knowhere.

    Officall teams don't have to be in to the IOC till 30th July, so there's still a chance for the UKA to redeem themselves and pick Ricki.

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  • 20. At 1:53pm on 28 Jul 2008, billiethezwerg wrote:

    Maybe it is about time the BBC took a look at their own website. The plethora of anti-BBC Coverage/UKA incompetency comments/discussions is growing daily. No wonder. Could imagine that before the BBC coverage starts Hazel shouts "ok everybody - rose-tinted glasses on standby". Why can't they tell it the way it is - Craig Pickering in 100m - last - UKA World Class Podium development?? HELLO BBC - Is there anyone there. Montell Douglas in the 100m - Hello 11.05 aint that quick. Usain Bolts 200m? Christian Malcolm ran 20.06 aged 22 and has steadily got worse every year - HELLLLOOOOOOOO BBC. The treatment of Rick Yates and all the BBC Commentator can say is "... can consider himself unfortunate not to be selected"

    As somebody said already get Paxman and Clarkson in

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  • 21. At 3:33pm on 30 Jul 2008, BaronBamford wrote:

    To those of you complaining about the number of staff the BBC are sending out to China to cover the Olympic Games and how that relates to the number of competitiors, please engage your brain.

    The BBC will be covering every sport at the games, 28 sports over 300 events, on TV, radio and web. Lets not be perocial and think it as only about British athletes.

    How many hundreds of hours of TV and radio and how many hundred pages of web content will those 400+ people produce. Lets remember that the Olympic Games is the greatest show on earth. I don't know how many support staff the British Olympic Team will be taking, but I am pretty sure that coaches, medical staff, management and media relations people will also out number the athletes.

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