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David Omoregie: Teenage barrier breaker

David Omoregie: Teenage barrier breaker

Hurdler David Omoregie spoke to AW about what his inclusion in the Jean Pickering Olympic Scholarships means

David Omoregie does not fit the image of a stereotypical sprinter. Quietly spoken, modest and articulate, the 18-year-old sprint hurdler does not “strut his stuff” and admits that his coach often tells him he must not be too “nice” to his competitors.

So he may not have all the talk, but Omoregie certainly has the walk. This winter, the talented teenager has let his legs do the talking, as he broke the British and European junior 60m hurdles record with 7.50 and claimed bronze in the UK senior indoor championships.

Omoregie’s somewhat reserved demeanour could have a lot to do with his background. With his parents originating from Nigeria, the family have moved around from Cardiff to Durham to Haverford West and back to Cardiff.

While the Cardiff AC athlete has spent most of his life in Wales after being born in Durham, he has not had an easy life and it is refreshing to see that Jean Pickering’s Olympic Scholarship has been awarded to not only a huge talent, but also to a young athlete to whom it can genuinely make a difference.

Two years ago his dad passed away after suffering from cancer, leaving his mum to raise Omoregie and his brother and sister as a single parent. Omoregie explains how important the grant will be to him.

He says: “I feel honoured to have been selected for this award. It will really take the pressure off my mum, who doesn’t work. I am currently in the sixth form and this will help with my travel costs and also my nutrition, which I pay close attention to. I plan to go to university next year and the money will be really useful for rent and living costs.”

Omoregie’s achievements have come in his first winter focusing on the hurdles. Having won the England Athletics under-20 indoor combined events title in January last year, Omoregie’s first taste of international competition came when he represented Great Britain in the Combined Events Indoor International in Spain later that month and placed third.

His hurdles was going well outdoors, and he qualified for the European Junior Championships where he ran a PB of 13.45 and placed fifth. Still undecided about his event choice, he did a decathlon three weeks later and he was not that pleased with how he did.

This competition, combined with his progress in hurdles and his background with injuries, planted the seed for a switch to the hurdles.

The Mike Guest athlete explains: “I had a few injuries with multi-events and the decathlon is a discipline that is demanding on the body. At the start of winter training, I discussed it with my coach and we decided to focus on hurdles and see what we could achieve.”

Although happy with his decision, Omoregie is quick to credit the contribution that his background in multi-events has played to his rapid rise as a hurdler. “Combined events has made me stronger and more agile. I think the switch to focusing on one event has led to my improvement,” he reveals.

After a bronze in the UK Senior Indoor Championships and a gold in the England Athletics Under-20 Indoor Championships, Omoregie saved his best performance for his final indoor race. On home soil at the Welsh Athletics International, Omoregie sped to a PB 7.50 clocking, which was not only a British and European age-group best, but also temporarily a world junior record until French athlete Wilhem Belocian ran faster later that day with 7.48.

Reflecting on his race, Omoregie reveals: “I had been running fast in training, so knew I was capable of it, but I knew I needed to get it all together in a race. It was literally the perfect race and has given me a lot of confidence for outdoors.”

» This is an extract from a two-page feature on David Omoregie in the April 17 issue of AW, which is available here or digitally here

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