Reigning heptathlon champion Louise Hazel has added her name to the CGE Ambassadors Programme and backs Katarina Johnson-Thompson to hold on to the title for England.
Louise Hazel has added her support to England’s Glasgow 2014 team by joining the CGE Ambassadors Programme – and admits she’s had second thoughts about her retirement with the Games now just over six months away.
CGE Ambassadors will work in the run up to Glasgow 2014 to support the performance of the England team. Ambassadors will have various roles working alongside CGE teams, sport bodies, stakeholders, sponsors and fundraising partners, in order to promote CGE and Team England to the public - via appearances, PR and social media.
Looking ahead to Glasgow 2014 Louise is confident that with or without her England will keep the heptathlon title that they have now held for two successive Games, with Kelly Sotherton before her winning gold at the Melbourne 2006 Commonwealth Games.
England will be sending the largest ever track and field team to the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow and Louise has her eye on one potential champion in particular.
“I’m sure that it’s going to be a whirlwind of emotions for me when the day of the heptathlon comes around, and I have to hand over the crown I’ve been holding on to for the past four years with a really tight grip.
“Katarina Johnson-Thompson has to be favourite for that gold medal though. If she puts in a classy performance across all seven events I think she’ll get the title. There’ll be tough competition as always and it’s never as easy as it seems, but I think she’ll do it.
“I went into Delhi with four or five girls with a better score on paper but I knew long before the Games that I was in the shape of my life.
“I was carrying a hip injury but I was so mentally prepared that I didn’t let it bother me and I think it was destiny. I was going to leave that track with a medal and I did, gold, with a new Personal Best.”
With Jessica Ennis-Hill now set to miss the Games, Louise admits she has considered mounting a comeback and taking the chance to retain her title, but is happy in retirement and enjoying her venture into business with The Podium Effect.
Speaking after her unveiling as CGE’s latest Ambassador, joining the likes of Beth Tweddle, Gemma Gibbons and James Cracknell, she said:
“I’m really honoured to be named a Commonwealth Games England Ambassador - supporting the team as opposed to competing in it this year though is going to be quite different for me!
“It’s exciting to be a part of the Programme and I guess it’s rekindled my interest a bit, there’s always the temptation to go for it again - especially now that Jessica Ennis-Hill is out of the running - to put the spikes back on and give it one last bash.
“I’m really pleased with my decision to retire though and there’s a lot for me to do off the track.
“Any athlete will tell you when they retire that they want to have that winning feeling again. I haven’t thrown all my spikes away and I’ve still got a few javelins left, so as I say there’s always that temptation.”
On the Commonwealth Games itself Louise maintains that the standard of competition is high despite having a long-standing reputation for being ‘friendly’.
“They’re called ‘the Friendly Games’ but they’re no different to any other championships. The level of competition is often seen as a bit lower because certain nations aren’t there, but it’s very, very high. Naming it ‘the Friendly Games’ almost does it a disservice. The competition was fierce in 2010 and it’ll be the same in 2014.
“Competing for England was great. I loved having the opportunity to take on people who I was normally competing with in the Great Britain squads. The banter with British team mates that are Scottish, Welsh or Northern Irish was fantastic. I wanted to take them down!
“I’ve spoken to a few people and they’re really looking forward to the Games. They’ve been thinking about it for a while and now that we’re finally in 2014 it’s time to get really excited.”
Off the track however Louise has started a new life with her new business The Podium Effect, where she is passing on her knowledge and skills from her 18 year career in athletics to people who she hopes to make more active.
“We started the Podium Effect in September last year; it’s a 60-day training and nutritional programme. It’s for beginners and I guess it’s like an insanity challenge for sane people!
“I felt as an athlete the one thing I’d been given year upon year without fail was a training programme, and I got it for free. I want to make that accessible to other people and I think it’s a great way to get people active.