The sprinter says whatever happens at London 2017, it’s just the start
Come Saturday evening, CJ Ujah intends to be standing on the start line at the IAAF World Championships on home soil about to go for 100m glory.
“This is just the start,” he says, looking ahead to the London event. “All the years before me I’ve been learning and I’ve been in and around. I feel like this is the start, to establish myself. For sure I know I can make a final but what can I do in the final?”
Fans don’t have to wait too long to find out.
It’s the blue riband event, the spotlight is always on, but this time it shines even brighter. With Usain Bolt getting ready to draw the curtain on an incredible career, Ujah could find himself lined up alongside the Jamaican sprint superstar as he bids for one final individual global gold.
“As well as Bolt being on the line there’s another six competitors so I feel like we’re all there to do a job,” Ujah explains. “Bolt is a great, he’s a legend to the sport. Credit to him, he has inspired a lot of people, even myself, but when we get on the line all of that has to go away and you start again, race from afresh.
“Regardless of what anyone has done before this, it’s the championships that matter,” adds the 23-year-old. “That’s all I’m focused on and I’m sure that’s all everyone else is focused on at the end of the day.
“I can’t go in there talking about one other guy when there are six other guys on the line as well. I’ve just got to focus on my race. If I win, I win, and I’m happy about that, but I just want to get better and improve myself.”
Ujah certainly has the ability to make an impact. With a season’s best of 9.98, the UK No.1 has repeatedly proven his fine form of late.
The Briton finished fourth behind Bolt at the Monaco Diamond League last month but before that won in Rome, Rabat and at the Müller Anniversary Games on the same London track.
A move to train with Altis in Arizona earlier this year seems to be paying off.
“I feel it was a better environment for me to grow as an athlete around certain people,” says the Stuart McMillan-coached sprinter, who currently sits third on the UK all-time list with his 9.96 PB. “I feel that’s really helped – in training every day, you’re around world-class people and then you get on the line and it’s the same thing.
“If I can, in the next couple of years or who even knows, this year, push for the British record… I’m trying to be one of the best. That’s always been the aim. I want to be an Olympic and world champion.
“When I first came into the sport I think I had my novice years of being star struck and all of that,” he adds. “I think in 2014, by then I was actually beating these guys as well as competing with them so I’m not star struck. I feel I belong there.
“I know where I’m going and I still know where I have to go.”
» CJ Ujah will line up for the 100m heats on Friday from 20:20. The semi-finals and final take place on Saturday evening