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Athletics: Kelly's eye on the 'tadpole' Sotherton warns Ennis.

Byline: By James Toney in Osaka

BIRMINGHAM'S Kelly Sotherton might be regretting labelling team-mate Jessica Ennis a 'tadpole'.

In the days before last year's Commonwealth Games heptathlon, Sotherton cheekily revealed her nickname for the 5ft 5in rising star, who was about to make her major championship debut.

Now Ennis is ranked British No.1 and fourth in the world and Sotherton is watching from the shadows as the 'tadpole' prepares to make an even bigger splash in the World Championships, which begin tomorrow.

"She is the future and there is sometimes a bit too much pressure on her; expectations are high. She is young and still learning," said Sotherton.

"Anything less than a top-five finish for her would be a disappointment to some people.

"If she finishes sixth or seventh people would be more disappointed but it is a fantastic achievement considering she is only 21."

But the Birchfield Harrier is quietly confident about her own chances, despite a lacklustre performance in her last heptathlon at the European Cup in Poland.

She is taking heart from her pentathlon silver medal at the European Indoor Championships in Birmingham, when she pushed the allconquering Carolina Kluft all the way, just losing out on gold by 17 points.

"I got close to her, maybe too close, and that gives me a lot of confidence," said Sotherton.

"The difference this year is that my training has gone well, I have had no serious injuries over the last couple of months and I know I couldn't be better prepared.

"I know that as long as I am focused and positive about myself I can perform and compete against the best.

"I did it a few months ago in Birmingham so there is no reason why I can't do it now.

"I expect to perform well but there are so many other good girls which means I could get a PB and come fourth or fifth - that is a reality."

Osaka features two extra events.

One, the 800m, is seen as Sotherton's strongest but the other, the javelin, is her weakest.

"I'm much happier with my javelin than last year," she said. "It's still not all the way there but my training has given me a belief that I'm improving."

Kelly Sotherton is training hard with the support from the UK Athletics performance team at the Norwich Union Preparation Camp in Macau ahead of the World Championships.


FINE TUNING: Kelly Sotherton at her training camp in Macau.; JESSICA ENNIS.
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:Birmingham Mail (England)
Date:Aug 24, 2007
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