British sprinter Jeanette Kwakye has been gearing up for London 2012 as she hopes to reach her second 100m Olympic final following her sixth-place finish in Beijing in 2008.
With the Olympic Games just months away, Kwakye talks to Sports Mole about Team GB's chances this summer, the importance of the Capital Clean Up campaign, and how she feels about the biggest event in sport taking place in her hometown of East London.
How have you been preparing for the upcoming Games?
"Training, training, training. Obviously I've been trying to get everybody around me involved - my local community, the kids that I work with in schools. Everything I'm doing right now is completely Olympics-focused and every decision I make is just based around what the summer holds."
How do you think your experience from Beijing 2008 could help you for this summer's Olympics?
"I think I'm very lucky because I've been to the Olympic Games already and I've seen what type of pressure or what type of situations could arise and then have to perform under that. I think the difference in London will be the home crowd. The noise first and foremost is going to be sensational and for me personally I love to compete in that type of atmosphere and it drives me so much. I'm looking forward to hearing as much noise as possible and getting pushed to the line and being in Beijing helped me with that. I performed well and I'm hoping to perform better in the summer."
Who do you see as your biggest rivals?
"Of course it would be the Jamaican girls - they're sensational - and the USA girls. They always turn up ready to roll so those are the girls I'll be looking to beat in the summer and to hopefully stand up there and make myself and my country proud."
How do you think as a whole Team GB will fare in the Games?
"I think we're going to do amazing. I think we're actually going to do way better than what people expect us to do. I'm not the type of athlete that counts the amount of medals that are going to be won or how many finals we'll make but I will say that I think that everybody will perform out of their skin because they realise that its a once in a lifetime opportunity. As an athlete its the pinnacle of your career and you can only dream of things like this. We've got the opportunity to make that dream come true so you've got to take it and grab it by the horns."
Do you think as it's in London there's more pressure on the British athletes to do well?
"I personally don't feel the pressure but I'm assuming that there will be other guys that are in the spotlight a little bit more than me that are maybe feeling it a bit more, but they seem to be doing fine. No-one's had any kind of drama where you can see that the pressure's getting to them. I think we're all taking it in our stride and if you've got good management, good sponsors, good coaches supporting you then I think you should be fine."
The Games are being held in your hometown of East London. Is the event more important to you because of this?
"The Olympics is the Olympics, but to say that we're having an Olympics around the corner of where it all started for me, that's a huge deal. I want to go into the Olympics in London 2012 knowing that, yes it is in East London and it is important but at the same time remembering it's a competition and I'm here to compete and not just get overwhelmed by the external factors of where it is. At the end of the day it could be anywhere in the world and I'd be lining up with the same girls, who are just as fast and just as fierce, so it's nice to think about but it's not in the forefront of my mind."
You're working alongside Ariel for the Capital Clean Up campaign. What made you want to get involved?
"Being part of the massive P&G Capital Clear Up campaign with Ariel is next on my list of making sure that I'm that person that makes sure that everybody volunteers to make sure that London is looking its best when it comes to the Games. I was really chuffed when they asked me to be their Ariel ambassador for London 2012. I think it's really important that London looks clean. I think that there will be opportunities for the press or anyone else to give negative views about the Olympic Games and we've had enough negative press and it's not nice. So, I want to make sure that London's looking its best so nobody can say that we didn't try. I think its really good that everybody's going to have ownership of their area and make sure it looks really clean and take pride in that."
In the past you've been quite vocal about your stance on the use of drugs in athletics. The BOA are trying to keep hold of their lifetime ban ruling but there is a chance it could be overturned, which would allow the likes of Dwain Chambers to compete this summer. What's your opinion on that?
"My opinion stands. I'm not for drug cheats, not even a little bit - reformed or not. I think that when you are aware of the situation, you're aware of the rules, you obviously think that you can get away with it. People are losing out because you're cheating and winning when you shouldn't be. So, I can only do what I can do as an athlete and continue to perform. I'll let the courts decide what they think is right and what they think falls in line with the rest of the world and take it from there."
More information on the Clean Up campaign can be found here.
Interview: British sprinter Jeanette Kwakye
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