Shelly’s big countdown

St Teresa's Primary School sports awards. Pictured is Shelly Woods with one of the award winners Gracie Meadows.
St Teresa's Primary School sports awards. Pictured is Shelly Woods with one of the award winners Gracie Meadows.
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SHELLY Woods is undaunted by the prospect of being one of the busiest athletes at next year’s Paralympic Games in London – in fact, she’s relishing it.

While the great and the good gathered in London yesterday to start the official 12-month countdown to London 2012, Woods was savouring the chance to add to the two Paralympic medals she won in Beijing in 2008.

The St Annes racer could compete in the wheelchair 800, 1500 and 5000 metres as well as the marathon. That could mean seven races in ten days, and it’s hard to think of another athlete with a tougher time-table.

Woods, 25, said: “I suppose only David Weir will have a schedule like that (Weir is Woods’ male equivalent in wheelchair racing and her fellow British No.1). It’s not just being in the right physical condition, but the right mental shape as well.

“You prepare yourself for one event, then bring yourself down mentally and then get up for the next.”

However, Shelly says all the effort is worthwhile if it means winning medals.

“If I win a medal of any kind next year I will be ecstatic. A gold would be a dream come true and it’s a big ambition of mine.

“I won silver and bronze at Beijing and that has set the bar for me to try and improve on that.”

Shelly has already clocked the Paralympic qualifying times for the 1500, 5000 and marathon this year and needs to repeat them in 2012, though she is confident of doing so.

She added: “Unless, I improve my start times I could drop the 800m but I will decide next year.”

In the meantime, Shelly has accepted an invitation to compete over 800m at the world athletics championships in Daegu, South Korea, starting on August 27.

And although her race on September 3 will carry exhibition status, there will be medals at stake.

She added: “It is not really my ideal distance, but it is a great experience to take part in a world championship event. It will help me to work on my speed on the track.”

*LONDON welcomed the world yesterday, a year to the day before the Olympic opening ceremony in the capital.

The special ceremony was attended by London Mayor Boris Johnson, International Olympic Committee president Jacques Rogge, organising committee chairman Sebastian Coe, Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt and Olympics Minister Hugh Robertson, among others.

Highlights included Rogge inviting the world’s athletes to compete and the mayor inviting the world to come to London to celebrate the Games.

Lord Coe, himself an Olympic gold medal winner, said: “It is a chance to look forward to the next 12 months, a crucial time for the athletes who want to take part and for us as the organisers. The countdown to London 2012 is on. We share the nation’s excitement and we won’t let you down.”

Among the facilities being shown off in all its glory was the Aquatic Centre, project manager for which is the former Fylde Rugby Club forward John Nicholson.

The centre will house swimming, diving, synchronised swimming and water polo.