The two-time Olympian tells Euan Crumley why a text message rekindled his running fire and provided him with a marathon swansong
Chijindu Ujah “in shock” after sub-10 runJune 9, 2014
Sprint talent says his 9.96 100m in Hengelo still hasn’t sunk in, though he knew a fast time was coming
Despite having a feeling that faster times weren’t far away, Chijindu Ujah says he was still “in shock” following his 9.96 100m in Hengelo on Sunday.
The 20-year-old became only the fifth British man to dip under the 10-second barrier with a time at the FBK Games that puts him third behind only Linford Christie and James Dasaolu on the UK all-time list as well as top of the UK under-23 all-time rankings.
“I did have a feeling this was coming,” explained the European junior champion. “I knew what type of shape I was in when I ran 10.17 in Loughborough three weeks ago.”
He added: “I’m still in shock, it hasn’t sunk in. Soon I think it will sink in. I’ve been getting lots of messages from family and friends and seen it all on Twitter. It makes me happy.”
The mark represents a magnificent breakthrough for Ujah, who is coached by Jonas Tawiah-Dodoo in London with Olympic long jump champion Greg Rutherford among his training partners.
“My group has been training well and we are all on form,” said Ujah, with fellow Tawiah-Dodoo-coached sprinters Sean Safo-Antwi and Deji Tobais clocking 10.14 and 10.18 personal bests respectively in Regensburg this weekend, too.
Having reached the 100m final at the World Junior Championships in Barcelona in 2012 where he finished sixth in a race won by the now sub-20 second 200m man Adam Gemili, Ujah went on to win at the European Junior Championships in Rieti and his times have steadily been falling in 2014.
He finished fourth over 60m at the British Indoor Championships in Sheffield in February, clocking 6.59 in a race won by fellow sub-10 100m runner James Dasaolu in 6.50. Before this year Ujah had a 100m best of 10.26 from 2012, a time he revised to 10.17 at the Loughborough International the day after running a wind-assisted 10.14 at the Great CityGames in Manchester.
Ujah was not the only man to run under 10 seconds in Hengelo, though, and he was beaten to the line by 2008 Olympic silver medallist Richard Thompson. Behind them, Harry Aikines-Aryeetey equalled his personal best with 10.08 for fifth in a race where 10.19 was only good enough for ninth – that time belonging to James Ellington.
“Before the start I knew there was good conditions, much cooler than it was for my heats, and I thought ‘anything is possible here, just try and win the race’ and the time came,” explained Ujah.
“I knew Richard Thompson was in form and for me to make him dip I knew that we must have gone fast.”
But he added: “I just want to take one step at a time. There is still more work to do.”