MEDAL marvel Shelly Woods admits she must improve to achieve her golden vision at the IPC World Championships in New Zealand tomorrow.
Having already claimed bronze in the 5,000m in Christchurch, the St Annes-based wheelchair racer aims for a medal of a more sparkling colour in the final of her best event, the 1500m.
Woods claimed silver in the 1,500m at the Paralympics in 2008, one of her two Beijing medals, though a gold on the world stage has so far eluded her.
Tomorrow’s 1,500m final represents her best chance yet, though the 24-year-old was not at her best in qualifying.
Woods clocked 3mins, 54.39secs in her heat, finishing second to American Amanda McGrory, who claimed the 5,000m gold on Saturday. Yesterday’s other heat was much quicker, won by newly-crowned 800m champion Tatyana McFadden, another old adversary of Woods, who was over 12 seconds quicker than the British No.1.
Woods also contested the 800m, finishing fifth in the Tuesday’s final, and will round off an arduous week in the marathon on Sunday, but she insists the workload is not taking its toll and remains confident she can deliver when it matters most.
“Amanda is my big competition and Tatyana as well for the medals, and it will be interesting to see what Tatyana does in the final,” said Woods, who set a world record of 3:21.22 for the 1,500m in Switzerland last June.
“Amanda has it pretty sussed at the moment. She didn’t used to, but she has now. It is business time now – the marathon and the 1500m are the two I am here to do.”
World record attempts are the last thing on anyone’s mind as the wet conditions in Christchurch this week have made track racing treacherous. But the weather is set to improve tomorrow, and Woods aims to do so to.
“Qualifying was OK,” she added. “It was quite comfortable but I hope the final is dry. It would be good race for a medal in the dry. The heats were wet and cold and that does affect your warm-up.
“We have wet gloves and dry gloves. The wet gloves are a little bit slower and you don’t want to use them if you don’t have to, but if the grip goes it is better to be safe than sorry at times.
“That’s why I hope it is dry – the wet can really play havoc with your preparation.”
Woods is representing the Aviva GB & Ireland team in Christchurch. Aviva has been supporting British athletes since 1999. To find out more about Aviva’s athletics sponsorship, go to aviva.co.uk/athletics