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Invaluable experience"For me these kind of events provide me with the ideal training and competition environment," she said. "You get to compete against Olympic champions and I beat one of them, so that's always a result!

Hazel's 2012 dream

"I'll be leaving my job in four weeks time and I'll be doing a bit of part time work at the University of Birmingham. The next few months are all about training in Italy and gearing up for my first heptathlon of the season."

"We don't always get these opportunities because we're not the fastest in the world so getting into Grands Prix and having three event challenges for the heptathletes Converse Shoes Lace Style

"This was my last winter competition unfortunately so I wish Kelly Sotherton all the best for the European Championship in Turin.

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"The motivation is unbelievable," she added. "My dad passed away last year but when he heard the Olympic Games were heading to London in 2012 he was screaming more than I was. For me 2012 will be about doing my best for me and my dad because he would have loved to see me compete.

"But I have to concentrate on my own performance and whenever I go into competition it's all about what I do. I just have to focus on closing that gap between myself and the world elite."

"You just don't know what lies around the corner such as injuries, bereavement or exams," she said. "I think I expected it all to fall into place but when you Converse Navy Womens

"Jessica and I understood what each other went through watching our rivals and competitors at the Olympics last year was absolutely gutting.

Hazel, who is self funding a forthcoming warm weather training camp in Italy, is seeking essential further sponsorship to give her the best possible chance of future success, while she's also called on UK Athletics to provide more high calibre multi event challenges at major meetings.

"In the European Championships in 2006 just having us all there was like the Three Amigos really! We're very supportive and on that weekend we pulled out Converse Trainers White PBs and bounced off each other. Everyone is concentrating on their own performance but it is nice to have that team spirit.

Follow the leadersHazel first stood out as a potential champion of the future back in 2006 when she represented her country at the 2006 outdoor European Championships in Gothenburg alongside Sotherton and Ennis, who she believes can be her inspiration ahead of London 2012.

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"I've changed coaches, made massive sacrifices and I feel this could really be a crunch year for me. I've still got three years before 2012 and I'm an athlete that progresses slowly but surely, but qualifying for the World Championships is my main target and when I get there it will be PBs all the way."

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"Without Jessica and Kelly we wouldn't have events like we had in Birmingham and we really do pull each other on," said Hazel, who is now coached by veteran heptathlete Julie Hollman.

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But ultimately she understands that turning her natural ability into consistent performances is down to her.

Back with a bangLast year Hazel's ambitions of qualifying for the Olympics in Beijing were thwarted by injuries, final year exams at the University of Birmingham and the emotional pain following the passing away of her father.

The dream of competing at a home Olympics will finally become reality in just three years time but the talented 23 year old is currently striving to overcome a number of significant barriers in a bid to keep up with her world class team mates Kelly Sotherton and Jessica Ennis.

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"I'm going to be back in training and then to a warm weather camp in Formia but I actually have to fund that myself. I do have a couple of sponsors on board but I am looking for more because I'm desperate to make that step to London 2012 now and the only way I can close the gap on Kelly and Jessica is with more financial support.

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"But those athletes who don't really want it will fall off the radar but Jess and myself are not shrinking violets so we'll be back with a bang, definitely."

take a setback it's how you cope with it that determines that kind of athlete you are.

Medal contender Ennis also missed out having cruelly suffered a fractured ankle last summer but Hazel is now adamant they can both bounce back in spectacular fashion this year.

She nailed two season's best performances in the long jump and 60metre hurdles while a draining first ever competitive 400m saw her come away from her final event of the indoor season with priceless experience and renewed belief.

Converse Trainers White

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"I do have a couple of sponsors on board but I am looking for more because I'm desperate to make that step to London 2012 now and the only way I can close the gap on Kelly and Jessica is with more financial support."

At the weekend the Birchfield Harrier, originally from Peterborough, showed glimpses of her class when finishing ahead of Olympic heptathlon champion Nataliya Dobrynska in fourth place overall after three events at the Aviva Grand Prix in Birmingham.

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hopefully I can still get a few more sponsors.

"Basically I'm just trying to get myself out there. I've been lucky enough to be invited all around Birmingham and the city have welcomed me as an adopted Brummie! I've got stuck in, got networking and all the time and energy spent on this is really paying off. But Converse Jack Purcell Women

While the chances of a podium place at this summer's World Championships in Berlin are realistically slim, Hazel just wants to ensure she makes a sizeable improvement to underline her credentials for London 2012.

"But for me that whole experience is invaluable and it's the level of competition we need as heptathletes.

is where it needs to be really. Hopefully UK Athletics can continue to do more for us.

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Converse Trainers White

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