Birmingham: new indoor surface

By David Martin, PA Sport

Kelly Sotherton has revealed her ambition to smash her own British pentathlon indoor record next year in Birmingham.

Regional development agency Advantage West Midlands have funded a new track surface at the city’s National Indoor Arena, with the improvements tipped to help athletes perform better.

The new £500,000 track will be laid well before the NIA hosts the 2007 European Athletics Indoor Championships in March next year.

“With it being a ‘Mondo’ track, it will help me go quicker - but then it will also make everyone else go faster as well,” said Sotherton, the 29-year-old Olympic heptathlon bronze medallist.

Sotherton, who finished runner-up with a UK record of 4733 points at last year’s championships in Madrid, added: “I’m aiming to do it again. Competing there is definitely in the schedule and I’d like to think it’s possible.”

History suggests the expensive investment in the speedy ‘Mondo’ surface should be of massive assistance to competitors. It also raises hopes of world records being broken at the NIA.

Sotherton, after winning last month’s Commonwealth Games heptathlon gold medal, is now back cross-training after a setback in her preparations for the summer season.

She was thought to have jarred a rib during the javelin discipline in Melbourne, where she produced the worst throw of any of the contestants.

But after treatment she has since found out it was caused by an unexpected spinal injury she had unknowingly picked up and is now recovered from.

“After the injury and missing some training, that probably means I won’t be competing until mid-June,” said the the Isle of Wight-born Sotherton.

That determination to get back into action could see her feature in a couple of events at the Norwich Union Grand Prix in Gateshead on June 11.

She added: “Then there will be the European trials, but I won’t be doing an heptathlon until the European Championships.”

The championships are taking place in Gothenburg from August 7-13.

Sotherton is refusing to panic about the lack of improvement in her javelin throwing, which last summer cost her a medal at the World Championships.

She said: "I’m always taking the necessary steps and putting in the time to improve it. It’s a challenge and I just have to persevere.

"What I have to do is to repeat my training performances in actual competitions.

“Let’s remember there’s still a long time to the Olympics in Beijing.”

Thank god for that. But will the support structure the track is layed on be upgraded as well? And what about the bends? I’d like to see something similar to Sheffield…