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Athletics: Magnificent seven seeking gold on the indoor boards.

Byline: Andrea Morgan

THE Welsh 2003 indoor athletics season speeds into action this weekend and the countdown starts to the world indoor championships in Birmingham in March.

Welsh athletes will be staying at home this winter and aiming to build on the successes of the Commonwealth Games in Manchester last summer at the next major championships at the National Indoor Arena.

The National Indoor Athletics Centre at Uwic in Cyncoed will be a hive of activity over the coming months as Wales's top stars put themselves through their paces on the boards and finely tune themselves in time for Birmingham.

The AAAs championships, hosted by NIAC last winter, returns to Birmingham this year but the Cardiff venue can still boast a packed calendar starting with the Athletics Association of Wales's open meeting on Sunday. The Welsh indoor championships follow next weekend.

Here are my seven tips for success in 2003.


TULLETT has been on the edge of world class as a middle-distance runner in recent seasons, making the Olympic 1,500m final in Sydney 2000.

In 2001, her determined front-running in Glasgow was rewarded by the British and Commonwealth indoor record for the 1,500m, taking 0.12 seconds off the mark that Zola Budd set in 1986. She finally realised her potential by picking up a silver medal in the 1,500m at the Commonwealth Games in Manchester last summer.

The 29-year-old Swansea Harrier picked up a bronze medal with the British women's team at the European Cross Country Championships in Croatia at the end of last year but her main focus this season will be the world indoor championships in Birmingham and building on her success last summer.


ELIAS made a smooth transition to the senior stage last year achieving immediate success. After winning the European under-23 400m hurdles title in Amsterdam in 2001, he added two silver medals in his event and the 4x400m, memorably anchoring the Welsh team to within a whisker of the gold medal, at the Commonwealth Games in Manchester.

Elias added a gold medal in the 4x400m team at the European championship and this season, after impressing on the boards in 2001, he will make gold with Great Britain a major target at the world indoor championships.


PONTYPRIDD'S teenage sprinter Watkins took his age group by storm last season ending the year at the top of the British rankings.

The reigning Welsh indoor champion, Watkins steps up to the under-17 group this season and will be aiming to find his feet there first before conquering the competition.


THE world indoor champion of 1999, Baulch is one of the most experienced 400m men on the boards.

After a disappointing season last year, many may have written off the chances of the Commonwealth 4x400m silver medallist - but at their peril.

Baulch has always opted to compete indoors even when his training group have not. With a home crowd behind the bubbly Welshman in Birmingham, a repeat of his feat at Maebashi, Japan, four years ago could be on the cards.


MALCOLM will want to waste no time in making up ground he lost last year through injury.

The 23-year-old from Newport lost his European indoor title in Vienna to Poland's Marcin Urbas but despite suffering a hamstring injury in the race, held on to collect the silver medal.

Outdoors, Malcolm struggled to overcome the injury and Great Britain's top 200m runner for two years lost the crown to Marlon Devonish.

Malcolm made the final in the Commonwealth Games and finished fourth at the European championships in Munich. He was a silver medallist behind America's Shawn Crawford at the last world indoor championships in Lisbon and will be aiming to go one better in Birmingham.


CARDIFF AAC triple jumper Shalders has brought his career on in leaps and bounds. The Welsh record holder will continue to improve indoors this season and can also be dangerous over 60m.


LAST, but by no means least. Jackson will finally hang up his spikes after the world indoor championships after a long and illustrious career on the track. Like Baulch, Jackson took the title in Maebashi in 1999 and is the reigning world record holder.

Jackson's plans to go out in a blaze of glory might not be so clear cut with the likes of Allen Johnson, Shawn Bownes and Stanislav Olijars all gunning to spoil the party.
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Copyright 2003 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Jan 3, 2003
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