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My leap to fame.

Byline: By Gareth Deighan

Olympic athlete has final TV contest hurdle to overcome

A hurdling busker has made it to the finals of a national television contest while training for the Olympics.

Liam Collins, from Forest Hall, Newcastle, is currently in India training at altitude to make the Beijing Olympics as a 400m hurdler, but will return for one week to compete in the final of the BBC's Let Me Entertain You.

The 27-year-old is aiming to become the best hurdler in Britain and to make the Beijing Olympics next year.

But Liam's talents don't stop at the hurdles.

Earlier this year Liam ( together with pal Richard Edmunds ( entered the BBC talent show Let Me Entertain You and the pair have now made it through to the final.

Liam said: "I'm in India for three weeks then I come home for one week to compete in the final of Let Me Entertain You, where I will be coming back to sea level but only during the day.

"By night I'll be sleeping in an altitude chamber to replicate the 8,000ft of the Himalayas so I don't lose the benefits I've gained.

"Obviously, I hope we can win the dancing show, but my real aim and focus is on the athletics to make sure I'm Britain's No 1 and to get my time down over the next 12 months to under 49.20 to qualify for the Olympics."

At present, Liam is training in Shimla in India. He is using bamboo shoots as hurdles and bricks as starting blocks.

He said: " It's very old-school Rocky-type training, but it's what I've needed to pull me out of the rut I've been in for a few years.

"There are more monkeys than people here.

"They have competitions among themselves doing one arm handstands and copying our moves ( it's really incredible."

On the show Liam and Richard performed together as Faces of Disco. The pair sported Saturday Night Fever-style white suits and black shirts and wore oversized masks of famous people, including the Queen, George Bush, Tony Blair and Michael Jackson.

In the show, the length of the act depends on how well it is received by the audience.

And in the case of Faces of Disco, they were allowed to perform for the allotted three minutes and won pounds 1,000.

They are now confirmed as one of nine acts to make it through to the live one-hour grand final on BBC2, where the live vote will decide the winner.

In 2004 Liam went on a six-month tour of the country busking as Michael Jackson. He was then considered the third best hurdler in the country and raised much-needed funds for his training.

The final will take place on Friday, June 22.
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Copyright 2007 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Publication:Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)
Date:Jun 13, 2007
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