By Nilesh Patel
BIRMINGHAM, UK – Kelly Sotherton says Birmingham run “felt like a lap of honour” after her medal tally moved up to three Olympic bronze, following retrospective doping tests.
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Kelly Sotherton, who competed for Britain in two Olympics, finished her career with one Olympic bronze to her name for her podium performance in Athens 2004 in the heptathlon.
Kelly’s third bronze
Since retirement in 2012, Sotherton has been upgraded a further two Olympic bronze medals after positive testing for drugs. The latest of her upgrades was awarded in for the heptathlon event in Beijing 2008 after Tatyana Chernova, of Russia, tested positive for a steroid.
The Briton initially finished fifth in the event, but was quickly upgraded to fourth after Ukrainian Lyudmila Blonska was disqualified for testing positive for an anabolic steroid. Until last week, where Sotherton tweeted this after finding out she would receive another medal:
“I knew that I deserved more”
Sotherton told Britwatch Sports that she could “finally be happy” from the result, to which she added:
“After nine years of wondering, being disappointed in my career, knowing that I had deserved more. I knew at the time, I think many people in the multi-event community knew that medals weren’t rightfully given to the person”
Doubt may have settled in Sotherton’s mind after last year’s upgrade, again in the 2008 Olympic games. However, this upgrade saw Great Britain’s women’s 4×400 relay team move from fifth to third following the exposure of more athletes in anti-doping tests. Disqualification of silver medalists Russia, and then Belarus meant that the quartet made up of: Sotherton, Christine Ohuruogu, Marilyn Okoro and Nicola Sanders were awarded bronze.
“I’m finally happy”
Due to foot and back injuries in 2010, Sotherton announced her decision to retire from the heptathlon. After considering a shift to cycling, she then chose to shift her focus on the 400m sprint. But after not being able to recover from a back problem in time for qualification for the heptathlon at London 2012, Sotherton was forced to retire.
Looking back on her career, she said: “I could be really disappointed and angry, but I’m not. I’m finally happy.
“I feel my career now, I ended it with one Olympic medal and now today I have three.
“So regardless if I had received a medal or not, the history books say what I have so I’m really over the moon and I’m going to enjoy that experience going forward”.
Alongside her three Olympic bronze medals, Sotherton has another World Championship bronze as well as a total four silver medals from the World Indoor Championships 2008 and European Indoor Championships 2005, ’07 and ’11, for the pentathlon and 4×400 relay respectively. She also has a Commonwealth gold to her name four competing in the heptathlon in Melbourne 2006.
“I can’t look back now, can only look forward, I’ve done that for such a long time and now I’m just going to focus on enjoying the moment”.
“It felt like a lap of honour”
Sotherton appeared at the Simplyhealth Great Birmingham Run as a ‘Duracell Bunny’ designed to help runners go for longer than they’re used to. She expressed her “honour to be pacing during this year’s Great Birmingham 10k, and taking on the ‘Bunny Challenge’ in my hometown makes it even more special”.
Despite being over the moon with her additional bronze medal, Sotherton said: “I have missed out on celebrations”.
She added: “but it’s fabulous being here today, because it felt like I’ve done a lap of honour, and at the end it was really emotional.”
Speaking only a week after the upgrade, Kelly said it was “perfect timing” to run in her home city.
“It was a great crowd, there was more people out than I expected, especially coming home the last kilometre was brilliant, really supportive.
“Even people running, everyone was really supportive, lots of pats on the back, saying ‘Well done Kelly’. They knew who I was which was great”.
Sotherton on Birmingham’s 2022 Commonwealth bid
With England confirmed as a possible host nation for the 2022 Commonwealth Games; Birmingham, Liverpool and London have all declared an interest in staging the event.
With the Birmingham Great 10k run today and the International Birmingham Marathon and the half-marathon in October, the city is certainly displaying an interest in becoming the home of the Games.
Speaking of her home city Kelly, who competed for Team GB in one Commonwealth Games and won gold, told Britwatch Sports that: “Birmingham is a great city for sport, they love it.
“The run just enhances it, because we’ve already got a great bid. We already host brilliant events, that’s not an issue.
“We have great venues, great organising committees. We could do this every weekend if we wanted to and it’s just about enhancing that fact”.
The 2022 Commonwealth games was understood to be held in Durban, South Africa. Despite hoping to be the first African city to host the Games, Durban was stripped of the right for failing to meet the promises outlined by their bid.
The 2018 Commonwealth Games will be held in the Queensland city Gold Coast, Australia, and the country has ruled out bidding for the following tournament.
To host the Games, English cities will have competition from Canada and Malaysia who are also interested in hosting. For Birmingham, however, they are well-prepared for the bid, with infrastructure that includes Villa Park, Edgbaston Cricket Stadium, Alexander Stadium as well as the ICC, Barclaycard Arena and NEC.
If you were inspired by Kelly’s run and the incredible scenes of thousands in Birmingham 10k run, you can sign up for October’s half-marathon here, or you could sign up for the Birmingham International Marathon here.
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