London 2012 - Merry backs Sanders for Games
Olympic 400m bronze medallist Katherine Merry believes Nicola Sanders has the talent to launch a London 2012 renaissance, if she can steer clear of the treatment table.
Sanders was one half of GB’s 400m breakthrough at the World Championships in Osaka in 2007 when she grabbed silver behind fellow Brit Christine Ohuruogu.
However that trip to the podium has proved to be a false dawn in the four years following with Sanders becoming much more acquainted with medics rather than medals.
A semi-final exit at this year’s World Championships completed a four-year barren spell with not a single major championship final appearance, let alone a medal, to her name.
Merry knows all about what it takes to climb the podium at the biggest championships of all having claimed one-lap bronze at the Sydney Olympics in 2000.
And having witnessed her latest comeback in Daegu this summer first hand in her TV pundit role with the BBC, Merry is adamant an injury-free Sanders can challenge on the biggest stage of all.
"The most important thing with all athletes and especially with Nicola is to make sure they are able to stay fit," said Merry.
"Nicola has had a lot of problems over the last few years with injury which has been very frustrating but if she can avoid that and have a good winter then she can be challenging next summer.
"Nicola is so talented.† You don’t run under 49.7 seconds over 400m and win a World Championship silver medal by not being really good.
"You just need Nicola to be able to have that period of time where she can get some good training in."
While Sanders was labouring to sixth place in her semi-final showdown in South Korea this summer the gold medal was taken by Botswana’s Amantle Montsho.
With the final won in 49.56 seconds, a personal best-equalling run from Sanders would have bagged her the bronze medal, behind American
And it is these facts that leave Merry convinced a Sanders revival can see her propelled back in 2012 contention.
"The good thing about the 400m for Nicola is that it is so open," added Merry.
"There is not really a stand out girl in the world and so if you run well and if Nicola can run as she has done in the past then she is going to be in the mix.
"As an athlete when you are injured you don’t want people to be taking big leaps forward and leaving you behind.† That hasn’t happened for Nicola which is the perfect situation really. Amantle Montsho is not running super-fast times and so I am just keeping my fingers Nicola can get back fit."