Archer determined rain will not dampen her race to the Olympics

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Rain on her wedding day was greeted with a shrug of the shoulders by Hatti Archer.

The Hallamshire Harrier – formerly Dean – was getting married in March, in Britain, what else could she expect?

Rain tomorrow afternoon in the 3,000m steeplechase at the Aviva 2012 Trials, while unseasonable even for this country, will be greeted with a mixture of emotions.

For although a bit of the wet stuff is not ideal for a fast pace in athletics, even in a discipline that requires its competitors to leap into a water pit every 400 metres, Archer’s chances of making the Olympics may not be harmed too badly by a deluge from the skies above.

Because tomorrow represents her first steeplechase race of an injury-hit season.

She has already achieved the ‘A’ standard time of 9min 43secs in Olympic qualifying year, but that was in Rome last May in her one and only steeplechase of the last 18 months.

With two Britons already having achieved the time in 2012, there is only one place up for grabs in the final three-woman team for London 2012.

Archer’s mark of 13 months ago may still be good enough to earn her selection if she, or any other athlete, fails to achieve it tomorrow.

Rain would slow the pace immeasurably, almost to the point where 9min 43secs is unbeatable by any athlete.

Archer would relish the chance to be able to render the selection irrelevant by crossing the line comfortably within the required time. But as the former British record holder nurses her body back to full health after a nagging hip injury, her primary concern is proving to herself, as well as the selectors, that she can race a competitive time.

“I’m just going to have to go out there and give it my best shot,” said the multiple British cross-country champion.

“The problem has been that I’ve not been able to do enough training because of this dodgy hip.

“You run the risk of inflaming it.

“I would be nervous and on edge about the trials if I felt 100 per cent.

“I’ve run the ‘A’ standard – I know it’s within me to achieve the ‘A’ standard – it’s just a question of will my body hold up.

“But it’s a confidence boost going into tomorrow knowing that I can run that time.

“It’s never nice to do a steeplechase in the rain, especially over the jumps.

“But it’s something that’s typical of Britain and you just have to get on with it.

“I know that from my wedding day. We had about an hour of sunshine, which in this country in March, is not bad.”

Archer is due a slice of luck.

Her creditable career – highlighted in 2010 with a fourth place at the European Championships – has been pockmarked by ill-timed injuries.

Four years ago, she was bound for Beijing and an Olympic debut when a stress fracture on the eve of the Games put paid to her chances.

“That was absolute heartbreak,” said Archer.

“It was so close to the Games that it made just being at home watching the Olympics on television, very hard to stomach.

“It was so frustrating and I didn’t really get over it until I started winter training again.”

She tackled that hurdle with customary gusto and was soon back on the streets around her home in Crookes, Sheffield.

That led to her stellar campaign during the winter of 2010-11, when as well as her performance in Barcelona, she also finished seventh in the European Cross-County Championships in Portugal, and 21st in the world equivalent in Spain last March.

Her ability to deliver on the biggest stage heartens the 30-year-old ahead of this weekend’s make-or-break Olympic bid.

Barbara Parker has already achieved the ‘A’ standard in the steeplechase and so has opted to attempt to qualify in the 5,000m this weekend.

Elish McColgan provides the sternest opposition for Archer tomorrow. The Scottish woman is the second person to have achived the required time and Archer knows if she can get ahead of her, then this seasoned campaigner on the Yorkshire steepchase and cross-country scene, has every chance of making her belated bow at an Olympic Games.

Jessica Ennis competes in four events. Ennis, who will be aiming for heptathlon gold at London 2012, will compete in the 100m hurdles and high jump today followed by the long jump and 200m tomorrow.

Sheffield’s Lee Doran defends his javelin title and needs to raise his best to 82m to get the A standard. Wakefield’s Charlene Thomas runs in the 1,500 metres, needing 4min 06secs to stand any chance of qualifying. James Wilkinson (Leeds City), fourth ranked in the country in the 3,000m steeplechase, is a strong contender for the title and qualification.

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