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Shaftesbury Barnet Harriers trio Larry Achike, Marilyn Okoro and Jade Nicholls hoping to secure Olympic berths
3:40pm Tuesday 26th June 2012 in Sport
Larry Achike insists his London Olympic dream is alive and kicking after warming up for this week’s European Championships by winning the triple jump at the Aviva 2012 Trials.
At 37, Achike is defying the sands of time by even being in contention for a home Games but the Shaftesbury Barnet Harrier proved he can still cut it at the top level with his second consecutive national title in Birmingham.
Despite claiming victory at the Alexander Stadium, Achike will head to Helsinki this week knowing he needs to jump out of his skin in both qualifying and then the final, should he get there, to reach London 2012.
Achike needs two Olympic A standard qualification leaps of 17.20m or more and, despite not jumping such distances since the last Olympic year in 2008, he is adamant he’s in the shape to achieve his London swansong.
The qualification period for the Games ends on July 1, meaning Achike’s sole opportunity is the European Championships and he doesn’t plan on wasting it.
“It’s always great to win a national championships so I am really happy with that but I would say the competition didn’t go as I would have wanted because I had a lot of fouls,” he said.
“It is still reasonably early in the season to get the Olympic A standard though so I didn’t ever think I would get it at the trials.
“What the trials did was made me feel really confident heading into Helsinki, hopefully I will get through the qualifying rounds, which will help and then I can look for that A standard and hopefully those two chances will help me get over the line.
“I am definitely still optimistic because I worked very hard over the winter for one reason and that is to come out and compete in front of my home crowd at London 2012.
“I am going to work really, really hard in the next week or so to make sure I can get there.”
Achike’s Olympic uncertainty is shared by fellow Shaftesbury Barnet Harriers Marilyn Okoro and Jade Nicholls.
Okoro looked to be a shoo-in for a spot in the 800m with an A standard in the bag and chief rivals Jenny Meadows absent from the trials injured and Emma Jackson running injured. However, the British stalwart once again showed her tactical ineptitude by setting a searing pace in the first 400m of the final only to fade dramatically and finish fifth.
Okoro now faces an agonising wait to see if she’s awarded a London 2012 place, while discus thrower Nicholls will need to prove her form at the European Championships.
Nicholls is in a head-to-head battle with fellow Brit Eden Francis and admits the pressure of the rivalry is hitting her hard.
“Since April, with the Olympics coming, it’s all been a mind game which I’m not used to,” she said. “I’ve never really had this mental pressure and stress before because I’ve never gone to the Olympics before.
“It’s frustrating because I know what I can I do and I know I’m in good shape. It can come - it’s just whether it comes in the next competition or not.
“Eden Francis is more than capable of getting the A standard so I have to bear that in mind. I can’t be cocky and say she’s not going to get it because that would be very, very stupid.”
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