Ennis will be a titan at 2012, says Freeman

Britons must shut out all distractions, says Australian champion at Sydney Games
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The Independent Online

The former Olympic champion Cathy Freeman has said Britain's athletes should block out all distractions, even family, at the London Olympics in 2012. But the 37-year-old Australian, who won 400 metres gold on home soil in Sydney in 2000, believes home advantage will make athletes such as Jessica Ennis feel "like a giant flying".

The UK Athletics head coach Charles van Commenee revealed at the weekend that, with world heptathlon champion Ennis in mind, he would seek Freeman's advice on how to cope with being a favourite for gold at a home Olympics.

Freeman was happy to offer that advice yesterday ahead of the Laureus World Sports Awards in Abu Dhabi today, where Ennis has been nominated in the comeback of the year category following her victory in Berlin.

Freeman told the Press Association: "It's about getting back to basics and going back to why what you do makes you so happy in the first place. If you can keep that always at the front of your mind you can never go wrong. Once we got to a couple of weeks before Sydney I didn't listen to anything, I didn't watch the Olympic channel on TV and was completely shut off from everybody, and even got rid of my family.

"My poor mother was really feeling it. I knew she was nervous because she became really quiet but usually she's quite bossy and demanding. She withdrew a little bit and it wasn't a very natural environment for me.

"My advice would be don't hurry yourself, the moment will come before you know it. Stick to your normal game plan, keep it simple. You try to enjoy yourself and make light of it all because if you're relaxed and living your life on your terms you can't go wrong."

Freeman was under intense pressure to deliver a gold medal in Sydney, but believes the benefits of home support will outweigh the disadvantages.

"You can't measure that home crowd advantage," she added. "It makes you feel like a giant flying, that's probably the best way to put it."

Van Commenee plans to take the British Olympic team out of the country for the usual pre-Games training camp in Portugal, in opposition to the opinions of Sebastian Coe, the chairman of the London 2012 organising committee.

Freeman agrees with Van Commenee, and she added: "It's like business as usual, don't change anything if it doesn't need changing. The intensity will take care of itself. You have this energy that's a life unto itself and you get swept up into it. We stayed in Melbourne for as long as possible before travelling to Sydney [in 2000]. Athletes know when they need to be 'on'."