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Thanou determined to make Worlds

5 March 2007
bbc.co.uk

By Sarah Holt

Controversial Greek sprinter Katerina Thanou plans to continue her comeback from a two-year doping ban at August's World Championships.

Thanou, 32, came sixth in Saturday's European Indoor 60m final - her first major event since serving a suspension for missing three drugs tests in 2004.

"The Indoors were preparation for me to go into the world championships," Thanou told BBC Sport.

"I'm in good shape and will train for the summer and race more."

Thanou and her former training partner Kostas Kenteris were banned after missing a trio of drugs tests on the eve of the Athens Olympics.

The duo claimed they had been involved in a motorcycle crash and still face perjury charges in Greece surrounding those claims.

Thanou said she had spoken to Kenteris, who has also resumed training, before the European Indoors. His message to her was, "it's good to see you back", although she did not know if he would also return to competition.

Thanou's appearance in the starting line-up in Birmingham was, however, greeted by a chorus of boos from the crowd. She also revealed her opponents did not come up and shake her hand before the races.

However, the 32-year-old, who won the European Indoor title in 2000, is determined to shrug off any lingering ill feeling.

"Some of the athletes don't like my journey," Thanou said. "I don't know why they have changed but that's OK, that's normal."

"I don't care. I'm just doing my job here and I feel comfortable at these championships."

"I put the investigation out of my mind; I leave that to my lawyer. All the other things are in the past."

There were mixed feeling among the Greek journalists assembled at the National Indoor Arena but Thanou remains largely a popular figure at home.

"I'm more popular in Greece than before," insisted Thanou, the 100m silver medallist from the Sydney Olympics.

"Because I came back, people saw that I didn't care about what happened or what people said about me."

Thanou, who has run 100m under 11 seconds 19 times in her career, is now focused on rebuilding her career at the age of 32.

Her appearance in Birmingham saw her contest her first major championships since the 2003 Worlds in Paris, where she finished fifth.

Her season's best of 7.22 seconds over 60m only ranks her 15th in the world, but she plans to work hard to try and regain her form.

"It is very difficult for me to recover again after two-and-a-half years staying out of the sport," said Thanou.

"It has been a long wait for me and I know it will be tough to return to the top level."

"But I'm excited to be back, I'm not nervous at all. I enjoy running, it's my history and my life."



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