Athletics - Fitzpatrick hoping to make a big leap in 2013

After her 2012 season was wrecked by injury Sale Harrier Abi Fitzpatrick insists she will be putting her best foot forward next year in more ways than one.

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Athletics - Fitzpatrick hoping to make a big leap in 2013
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Coming into this season, the 19-year-old Fitzpatrick was the fastest 400m hurdler in Europe for her age group, running some explosive times as an 18-year-old back in 2011. That year Fitzpatrick finished fifth at the European Junior Championships then backed up that up with a remarkable performance that saw her make the final at the British Senior Trials. And with the World Juniors in her sights this year the stage was set for Fitzpatrick to prove her dominance in the 2012 summer campaign, her last year as a junior. But a torn hamstring sustained last November threw her preparations wildly off track, culminating in a season to forget that saw her best time register a full two seconds slower than her personal best of 58.38 seconds a year previously. But rather than lick her wounds Fitzpatrick has altered her hurdling technique this summer and is desperate to re-enter the fray as a new and improved middle distance runner. "2012 was my last year as a junior and, looking at the rankings and my times, I think I could have gone to the Worlds with a medal opportunity," said Fitzpatrick, who benefits from being on the SPAR Sprint Stars scheme. "I was ranked the fastest in Europe for my age, so I was really frustrated - the whole season in general was a disappointment for me. "2011 was my best year so far, so coming into 2012 I was quite excited and looking forward to the World Juniors. "But I spoke to my coach and we decided I couldn't really hope for a proper season in 2012 after the injury I had. "I did do a couple of meets but they were just training runs to get me used to the procedure of going through a calling room and going into a competition peaking, because obviously this year I was in no shape to compete. "By September I'd got everything back. I'd got my strength back, my speed, my endurance, and I was ready to compete but obviously the season is over now. "The winter is going well so far though. I'm doing lots of injury prevention work to stay injury-free, and hopefully I'll get my rewards in 2013." Fitzpatrick will be aiming to peak for the European Under-23 Championships in July in Finland, and believes she will need to shave about a second and a half off her current personal best of 58.38 in order to make the final. But Fitzpatrick is confident her hard work off the track and a change to her hurdling technique can lead to much faster times next year. "Last year I ran all right-leg hurdles," she said. "To run your fastest, you need to use your left leg round the bends because you're closer to the inside of the track. "At first I couldn't hurdle with my left leg, but now I prefer it. "I physically couldn't do it before because I had a problem with my pelvis, so I've had quite a lot of work with the chiropractor, the osteopath and the physio to allow me to get that movement in my hips. "I think I can make up a lot of time by using my left leg and efficient stride patterns."

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