The former British 800m No.1 started her season with a fast 600m

Marilyn Okoro says a settled new lifestyle in the United States is the reason for her impressive return to form, which included a fast 600m in 1:25.89 indoors last month.

The former British champion has an outdoor 800m best of 1:58.45 dating back to 2008, which ranks her No.6 on the UK all-time lists, but she has not broken two minutes for the distance since 2013.

But she was recently appointed director of track and field operations at the University of Central Florida and has started 2017 in encouraging form with a 600m time of 1:26.72 which she improved to 1:25.89 two weeks later to just miss Jenny Meadows’ UK indoor record of 1:25.81 from 2007.

She then clocked 2:03.26 for 800m on an oversized track in Nashville at the weekend for her quickest indoor 800m since 2012.

She is setting her sights on London 2017 and believes she can be competitive right up until Tokyo 2020.

“I think I have another Olympic cycle in me,” she says. “As for London this year – it would be a dream to race there.”

Okoro has struggled for form in the last three years due to a mixture of hamstring problems and the anxiety of not knowing how permanent her stay in the US would be. At last year’s British Olympic trials, for example, she finished an underpar third in her 800m heat in 2:05.

“In 2013 I came to the US and thought I’d give the sport one more go,” she says. “I needed a change and maybe there was a bit of escapism in me, but it’s starting to pay off.”

She adds: “Many times I’ve just wanted to come home. My life has never been super-smooth but the last four years have been the most turbulent. But I’ve learned never to give up on your dreams. If I end athletics, I want it to be on my terms.”

» You can read more from an interview with Marilyn Okoro in the February 9 edition of AW magazine