- 7 Aug 08, 03:55 AM
I hopped down to the Macau Athletics stadium on Tuesday, eager to check on the progress of our track and fielders.
This branch of the British team have taken their fair share of flak over recent years; by and large medals have been hard to come by.
Performance Director Dave Collins is expecting five in Beijing, and hoping for more.
The chief Gold medal hope is triple jumper Philips Idowu, freshly crowned world indoor champion, world leader and in the form of his life.
It is a rest day for the new star of the team, but it's not long before another name on Collins wish list rocks up.
Kelly Sotherton is a world class hepthathlete and a proven performer on the big stage.
She's won World Championship and Olympic medals before, and she well knows that in the absence of the all-conquering swede Carolina Kluft, it could be gold this time, but there's a slight flaw in the cunning plan - the javelin.
Sotherton struggles to throw the damned thing much further than 30m.
That's a serious hinderance in getting to the top of the rostrum and it's long been a sore point for Kelly, who shoots a suspicious glance at the media as we assemble our mini gazebo trackside to shelter from the searing sun, before she jogs off into the distance.
While Kelly limbers up, the men's 100m relay team are practicing their baton changes.
Standing two-a-breast and running (or rather walking fast) on the spot, they shuttle the aluminium tube back and forth with aplomb.
Realistically, the chance of an invdividual 100m medal is non-existant - none of these guys have run under 10 seconds - but Simeon Williamson, in the absence of Dwain Chambers the fastest Britain can muster and not short on self-belief, is sure they can retain their Olympic relay title.
"Were not as fast as the Americans, but we're better with the baton"
Before too long, another pair of medal contenders make their entrance.
Christine Ohuruogu looks reluctant to be filmed as she continues her quest to add Olympic 400m gold to the world title she won in such sensational fashion in Osaka last summer, when she just managed to hold off teammate Nicola Sanders, who trots onto the track with her.
Christine hasn't done much 400m running of late, preferring to work on her speed in the 200m, and frankly, it showed at last month's Crystal Palace Grand Prix where she beat Sanders, but by her own admission was "rubbish".
Then again her chief rival, americas Sanya Richards hasn't exactly been pulling up trees this year either, so all things are possible in Beijing.
Gerry Sutcliffe certainly hopes so.
The Sports Minister is braving the heat alongside us, and when I asked him about the importance of British success, he was rather more insistant than BOA Chief Executive Simon Clegg about the need for Britain to reach, and preferably exceed UK Sports stated target of 41 medals in China this summer.
There has been what Sutcliffe describes as a "massive investment" in Team GB and it's payback time. "Success is vital", he tells me." We'll evaluate immediately after Beijing."
Besides, I suspect Prime Minister Brown could do with an Olympic feel-good factor right now.
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