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Sotherton to start preparations at Norwich Union British Grand Prix
25 May 2006 15:00

Commonwealth heptathlon champion Kelly Sotherton starts her preparations for a major championship double when she competes at the Norwich Union British Grand Prix in Gateshead next month.

Sotherton, the heptathlon bronze medallist from the Olympic Games two years ago, was one of England’s success stories in Melbourne, winning her first gold medal at a major games.

The Birchfield Harrier is now aiming to complete a golden double at the European Championships in Gothenburg in August - and she will kick start her domestic season in the long jump at Gateshead.

Sotherton said: 'I've been desperate to get back competing again after the gold medal in Melbourne, and it's great that there is a big UK Athletics meeting, like the Norwich Union British Grand Prix to kick the season off in style. This is the first stepping stone towards the European Championships later this summer.'

The 29-year-old will be up against her British rival Jade Johnson, who was fifth in the long jump in Melbourne, as well as the Olympic long jump gold medallist Tatyana Lebedeva. The Russian jumped a hugely impressive 6.87m to win at the north east venue in 2004. Also in the line up is India’s Commonwealth Games bronze medallist from 2002, Anju Bobby George, who competes at the Gateshead stadium for the first time.

Gateshead Council, supporters of the Norwich Union British Grand Prix, believes that the involvement of such world class athletes is not only terrific for the region but provides great motivation for youngsters from grassroots level.

Councillor John McElroy, Cabinet member for Culture said: 'Having gold medallists like Kelly compete at Gateshead will not only raise the standard of competition but will also inspire the many children who will be watching, many of whom will have earlier taken part in the Junior Games Challenge which allows them to run on the same track, on the same day as some of world's best athletes.'

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