Clitheroe hoping to make early inroads

THE new track-and-field season gets off to its traditional start tomorrow when the Aviva International takes place at the Kelvin Hall in Glasgow, and Helen Clitheroe for one is eager to get back into action.

A member of the Great Britain & Northern Ireland team which will take on the USA, Germany, Sweden and a Commonwealth Select, Clitheroe, who will run in the 3,000 metres, does not usually return to the track quite so early in the new year. She is therefore keen to find out how she will measure up against her rivals.

"I'm quite interested just to get running and see where I'm at," she said yesterday. "I've never run at this meet or this early in the season before.

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"Obviously the main target this year is the world outdoor championships in Berlin, so it's not a major peak for me in terms of fitness at this time of year. But I don't generally sit back in a race. I'm looking forward to getting going, really."

Having turned 35 on the second day of the year, the woman from Preston is closer to the end of her career than the beginning, but she is confident she can keep on improving in the event to which she moved two seasons ago, the 3,000-metres steeplechase. "I moved from the 1,500m to the steeplechase in 2007 and there is a big difference between the events.

"Physically I'm quite suited to it because I'm quite strong and not particularly injury prone, but the technical aspect of the steeplechase needs to be worked on. If I can do that I can maybe knock a bit off my personal best."

At the moment Clitheroe's best is 9minutes 29seconds. She believes that, provided she becomes more fluent, more consistently, over the jumps, she can get that down to about 9:20. Tomorrow, though, she will be back on the flat – or rather, on the steeply raked curves of the tight Kelvin Hall track.