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Bourne End Olympian vows to keep running
NICOLA Sanders has vowed to keep running despite being one of Team GB’s more high-profile victims of funding cuts this week.
Along with other stars such as Paula Radcliffe and Steph Twell, the former World Championships silver medalist over 400m has been dropped from UK Athletics’ World Class Performance Programme.
It’s a devastating blow for the 30-year-old, who is just a week into her winter training schedule.
Speaking exclusively to the Bucks Free Press, she said: “I was expecting it. I didn’t run in London and it was always going to be mainly the people who ran in the relay. I’d have been surprised if I was on the list.
”I’m just going to have to look for funding.”
But while the news means an uncertain future for an athlete who has been dogged by injury and, as a consequence this decision will lose her free medical care, she has no intention of hanging up her studs.
She said: “I’m not going to give up. I don’t know how it’s going to work out but I was never going to stop.
“Everyone was focused on 2012 but I wasn’t going to stop after that.
“I’m definitely looking at the world championships in Moscow next year and the Commonwealth Games in 2014.
“I’m not sure about [the Olympics in] 2016, but never say never. I’ll be 34 then and Kelly Holmes was 34 when she won her double.
“But I don’t know what shape my body will be in then. I’ve had a few injuries and that takes it’s toll on your body.”
For Sanders, that’s the nub of the matter.
Injury has dogged her like an unwelcome shadow since she won silver behind Christine Ohuruogu in Osaka in 2007, but from now on she will have to fund every scan, every physio session and every massage herself.
She said: “I’m going to miss out on the medical side of it. I had it on tap but now I’m going to have to fund it all myself.
“Just one scan is about £1,000. I had two scans last season but a lot more than that in previous years. Hopefully I won’t need so many now though.”
If she does get a clear run, Sanders is adamant she can again be the athlete that broke 50 seconds twice in a few days to win silver at a major championships.
She said: “I don’t think I’d still be slogging away if I didn’t think I could do it.
“It’s probably easier for me [than someone who hasn’t run that fast] because I know what my body can do.
“I’ve done it before and I know I can one of the best in the world.”
Meanwhile, UK Athletics performance director Neil Black said: “Being part of the World Class Performance Plan is a privilege and not a right and athletes selected will be expected to fulfil tough performance criteria.
“We have identified a very talented group of athletes for support over the coming year and I am confident that we can build on the success of the last Olympic and Paralympic cycle starting with the European Indoors in Gothenburg in March.
"Accountability is at the heart of this programme and athletes who have not met performance criteria over the last year will not receive continued support. It is undoubtedly tough, but that is performance sport."
You can follow Nicola Sanders on twitter: @nic400