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24 September 2014
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The Beijing Games on the BBC
Katharine Merry

The 2008 Beijing Olympics and Paralympics on the BBC

BBC Radio team Olympic impressions

Katharine Merry


Olympic bronze medallist Katharine had a highly successful career as a youngster.


Aged 13, she broke UK records for her age-group at 100m, 70m, and 75m hurdles, high jump and pentathlon, the last four of which still stand.


She also won two gold medals at the 1993 European Junior Championships.


In her first years at senior level she was held back by injuries but still managed second places in both the 100m and 200m at the European Cup.


However, by 1998 her senior career had stalled, beset by injury problems.


The subsequent switch to 400m transformed her career, leading to her Olympic medal in Sydney.


In 2001 her great form continued and she clocked the year's fastest time in the 400m; however, she had to withdraw from the World Championships due to an Achilles tendon injury.


Injuries caused her to call time on her career in 2005, and she is now an official UK athletics mentor.


"For me the Olympics is simply the biggest sporting event in the world – a celebration of sport, all sport.


"I like the fact of the whole celebration – the best athletes in the world coming together.


"My earliest Olympic memories are from 1984, which was the first Games I physically remember watching – I was 10 years old.


"The US put on a great show, it was brilliant and really caught the attention, and GB did well.


"My hero, Kathy Cook, took bronze in the 400m and I was just getting involved in running at that time so it was very inspirational for me.


"Then Sydney was the culmination of my career, with the significance of winning a medal. Everyone asks about it, where I keep it – it's actually just in a drawer in bubble wrap!


"I was so happy just to be involved in such an iconic race, with Cathy Freeman winning the gold medal; it was very special.


"As far as the Beijing Olympics go, I'm really looking forward to not competing! Not doing physical activity, but being on the other side of the fence, the media side, will be fascinating.


"You get a different viewpoint and a different insight, and I can cover different sports, gain new experiences.


"The general buzz is fantastic at the Games, though, so just to still be involved is amazing.


"I've actually been to Beijing – I went to the World Junior Championships there in 2006, in a mentoring role. I was just there for a couple of days and they were basically road- testing it for the Olympics. What they've done there is really impressive.


"I remember South Korea; Seoul was my second Games, but I was never really a big fan. It's very busy, lots of people, very crowded – and I'm basically a country girl!


"I like all sport – well, barring cricket! – and, like a lot of people, I like the personalities.


"So in Beijing I'm really looking forward to the men's 100m sprint with Asafa Powell and Tyson Gay going head to head.


"Then there's Liu Xiang, the David Beckham or Cathy Freeman of Beijing in the 110m hurdles. I've been working with the modern pentathlon team so I know them well and follow them.


“Then Tom Daley in the diving – I've got swept along with the sentiment and the story like everyone else! I really hope he does well; he's been pulling up trees lately and he's got nothing to lose – he's only 14 – and we do like our outsiders!


"We seem to always do well in sailing and rowing so I'm tipping those sports for British success.


"With track and field, Paula Radcliffe has her demons to bury so the marathon could be massive.


"Then Phillips Idowu should do well in the triple jump, and we could get four or five medals in the cycling – I really like the cycling!


"In the 400m there's Christine Ohuruogu and Nicola Sanders who have a great chance.


"Looking ahead to London 2012, I'll be jealous! I'd love to have done an Olympics in my own country. It's a fantastic opportunity.


"The youngsters I work with now are all looking to it and what would inspire them if not that? It's a very proud moment to take part in an Olympics anywhere, and I'm very proud to have been part of it, but in your own country it would be extra special.


"I really think we'll do a good job of it and it will be a really great couple of weeks."








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