Beijing 400m gold medallist tells Chris Broadbent she’s looking forward to a future that could see her revise her tactics
Not many British athletes endured an Olympic cycle as tough as the nation’s solitary gold medallist from Beijing.
But, with “the worst bit over”, Christine Ohuruogu, who followed up her success in 2008 with silver in London last summer, has admitted she’s now eagerly looking forward to the rest of her career and considering the possibility of employing new tactics to see what more she has to give.
“My whole career has been pretty challenging,” she said, “but it’s all about enjoying it now. I feel like I have got the worst bit over.”
In winning 400m gold in the Bird’s Nest Stadium in 2008, Ohuruogu established herself as the UK’s most successful championship athlete of recent years. It should have been a glorious countdown to the defence of her Olympic title in her home city at London 2012, yet the intervening three years were laden with problems that could easily have de-railed an athlete of lesser mental strength.
That she managed to return to anything like her best by winning a gutsy silver medal in August is a testament to her fortitude and just reward for her determination. Her immediate disappointment in failing to win gold again also revealed much about the fierce ambition that lies within her often cool and calm exterior.
Although she defied many who doubted her in medalling, Ohuruogu has stressed that is not what inspired her. “I don’t do what I do to prove anybody wrong,” she said. “I do it to prove myself right. I know what I’ve got and I know what I can do. That’s my motivation.
“I know how I want to run. I’ve not seen it from me yet,” she said in considering the possibility of experimenting more with new tactics in the future, instead of her customary final straight charge which has served her well.
“I know I can run from the front as opposed to a chasing position. That’s something I know I can do. I really feel now is the time for me to work on that, as opposed to trying to play safe.
“A lot of people tend to go out harder but still die. It’s the person who can judge it the best really. Even though the others go out harder, they are not beating me on the home straight, so it’s not really working is it?
“I think I need to probably be a lot more in contention at 300m and then rely on the strength to come down the home straight.”
This summer’s World Championships in Moscow are an obvious target where she will most likely have to overcome Sanya Richards-Ross, who claimed the gold ahead of Ohuruogu in London.
Her rivalry with the American was one of the more prominent head-to-heads in the sport before the British international’s dip in form.
Now fully fit, the rivalry is now fully rekindled and Ohuruogu is looking forward to the challenge.
“She’s a very good athlete and is in the position that she’s the one to be beaten,” she said. “I’m game if she is.
“I’ll race anybody. There’s not just Sanya, there’s lot of others. In the 400m you always keep your eyes open. You never write anybody oﬀ .
“But it’s good for the sport. It’s good for people to really engage and to feel the event like we do. If we get people to attend these events and feel the passion, then we are doing our jobs.”
» This is an extract from an interview with Christine Ohuruogu in the January 24 issue of Athletics Weekly, which is available here