Hannah Miley: Shanghai is last big test in build-up to Olympics

THE swimming events start tomorrow here at the World Championships in Shanghai. It's really exciting because this week is going to be so important in the build-up to London next year.

It's the last major competition before the Olympics and everyone I compete against at this meet will probably be the same in 12 months' time. The standard and level of competition for both Worlds and Olympics is similar and it is so important to soak up the whole experience.

My main event is the 400m individual medley and it takes place on the final day - a week tomorrow. How am I going to do? Well, if I had a crystal ball I would tell you but it's all down to the individual athletes and how they have prepared and how they race on the day.

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But I'm feeling good. At last month's Scottish Championships in Glasgow I beat Mireia Belmonte, my Spanish rival who is ranked No 1 in the 400m IM. That gave me a big boost, although I know it will have made her even more determined to come back here and make a statement.

Overall, I think Team GB will do well. We've had a week at a training camp in Osaka in Japan and it was very helpful. It's been great getting to know the newcomers. There are quite a few who have never been part of a senior national team before, including Stirling's Jak Scott.

Altogether, there are seven Scots in the team, which is great. This week, I think the Chinese will definitely benefit from being in front of the home crowd - hopefully it will be the same for us in London - and I think there could be some surprises in store.

The training camp in Japan was excellent. The facilities were fantastic and the Japanese staff were all so friendly and helpful. It couldn't really have been any better. There was a ten-lane 50m indoor pool with a six-lane 25m diving pit so we had the opportunity to train both long and short course.

My dad, Patrick, was with me In Japan and he's here in China. He is also coaching three other athletes - Stacy Tadd, Molly Renshaw and Kate Haywood. Their own coaches sent through detailed plans of what they had to do at the holding camp and dad did his very best to accommodate all their needs.

But when we are away there is not really any opportunity to be a tourist. It is all work. I hardly went out in Japan because it was quite humid and I didn't want to risk dehydration. But I didn't mind being stuck in with my team-mates.

The mood in the camp was very upbeat and positive, everyone is getting on great with each other and it helps bring the team closer. Hopefully, a happy team will mean a fast team.

After Shanghai there will be time for a little relaxation - a rare treat. I am going to take a couple of weeks' break just to recharge my batteries and get my head back in the game for preparations for Olympic trials next year. They are now just seven months' away and will be staged at the Olympic pool, which will provide an extra buzz. It will be nice to be "normal" for a couple of weeks, celebrate my 22nd birthday and catch up with my friends. Most of them have just graduated or are getting engaged, so we need to have some serious catch-up time.

• Hannah Miley, the European and Commonwealth Games Champion in the 400m individual medley, is one of Scotland's leading prospects for the 2012 Olympic Games and is a member of Team Kellogg's.

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