TRACK star Lee McConnell is backing fellow Glaswegians to provide the fuel to fire Aviva’s Great Britain and northern Ireland team team to victory at the Kelvin Hall.
International stars including Jessica Ennis, David Oliver and Lolo Jones are billed for next Saturday’s opening event of the 2011 indoor season.
As Aviva GB and NI attempts to win the title for a second successive year, the Brits, again led by world and European heptathlon champion Ennis, will go head-to-head with international athletes from the USA, Sweden, Germany and a Commonwealth select.
And 400-metre runner McConnell believes it’s not going to be all plain sailing for her international colleagues, but has tipped the crowd to sway the match in favour of the hosts.
The former Holyrood secondary school student told ExtraSport: “Glasgow, and Scotland on the whole, has a fantastic fan following in athletics and they’re always very appreciative of great performances and great athletes”.
Enthusing about the Kelvin Hall’s “unique atmosphere,” Lee added: “Because it’s in such a confined space as well, that adds to the closeness of the crowd and they really become involved. I grew up and lived in Glasgow and know what it is like”.
So she’s backing Britain and predicts: “They’ll have the home crowd behind them and if they get some good performances in, they stand a very good chance. I’m sure they’ll do well enough to win again”.
The match is going to be littered with fascinating rivalries, including a repeat of last year’s enthralling 60-metre encounter between Ennis and Jones, in which the Sheffield star came from behind to beat the world number one hurdles specialist in a time of seven.95secs — a new British record.
But Ms McConnell reckons the contest between newly-crowned European and Commonwealth champion Andy Turner and this year’s fastest hurdler, the American David Oliver, will be the competition highlight.
She predicted: “I think that’ll be a fantastic race and it’ll be good to see him test himself against the world number one. Andy had a good year last year so it’d be good to see how much he’s come on”.
Meanwhile, with the world championships in Daegu just around the corner and London 2012 some 18 months away, Lee’s training regime reflects her determination to remain the golden girl of Scottish athletics.
She said: “The 400m is becoming even more competitive in Britain and my main aim is just to retain my position in the British team. I’m working very hard and hope the results will come.
“I’ve learned a lot about myself in the last year or so. You are constantly learning really, and I feel I have a better insight into my strengths and weaknesses, which should only help me in the long run”
n FOR tickets to see the athletes in action at the Kelvin Hall on January 29 either call 08000 556 056 or visit www.uka.org.uk/aviva-series.