The global 4x100m gold medallist wants to put down a marker at this weekend’s IAAF World Relays
CJ Ujah might be using this weekend’s IAAF World Relays as a chance to test his form, but he’s also very aware that it is an opportunity for the GB team to make a real mark at the start of another important season.
The event offers Ujah his first outdoor race of the year, where the main aim is just “to get my legs moving and see where I am with my training and how it’s all going”. But he adds: “The British boys want to put down a marker and hopefully qualify for the Olympics.”
The 25-year-old Enfield & Haringey sprinter was Diamond League 100m champion in 2017, but 2018 was a learning curve as he experienced a false start in the World Indoors and then a fourth-place finish in the European Championships 100m before a relay win.
“2018 was a big learning year for me,” says the 2013 European junior champion. “I changed so much including basing myself in Arizona. It didn’t quite work out but I don’t have any regrets about trying it.
“As I look at 2019, I think the next three years are massive for me.
“I know what I can do in a world-class field as I approach 2019 and look ahead to 2020 and 2021.
“I have moved back to Loughborough to my old coach, Jonas Dodoo, who got me to where I am.”
While Ujah has clear ambitions in individual events, he is delighted to be part of the world champion sprint relay squad.
“We are quite a young squad and we’ve learnt a lot together,” says Ujah, who teamed up with Adam Gemili, Danny Talbot and Nethaneel Mitchell-Blake to win the world title in London in 2017.
“Some of us have grown up together, juniors into seniors. So we’re pretty close and get on well together and we learnt from the years that we didn’t do so well. I don’t think we would be where we are today without those years of learning.
“Sometimes you have to go a bit backwards to go forwards but we are definitely heading in the right direction, with no complacency and everyone doing what they need to do. It’s just about going out there and running your best race.”
As he talks about the relay squad, he is excited but recognises that none of the 2017 gold medallists can take their place for granted.
“That’s a fact but that’s what keeps the fire burning and makes us want to do better,” says Ujah, who is joined in Yokohama in the GB World Relays 4x100m squad by Gemili, Mitchell-Blake, Harry Aikines-Aryeetey, Sam Gordon and Richard Kilty.
“I know that if I’m not ready to go out there, others are. But I’m certainly in the mix and hoping each and every time to go on the track and compete for my country.
“They call us the golden generation of British sprinting and it is strong and competitive group, a great thing to be part of.”
This is his second time at the IAAF World Relays, having been in Bahamas in 2017, and he is hoping to do better.
“2017 didn’t go quite as well as we thought it would but then look what happened at the world championships that year,” he says. “This year we have a new face in the squad in Sam Gordon and he is fitting in really well.”
On this year’s event, he adds: “I’m sorry we haven’t entered a team in the 4x200m and I hope we will in the future because we’ve got the strength in depth for two squads.
“So I’d like to see us in the 4x100m and the 4x200m, having a bit of fun and taking some of the pressure off ourselves, because I think that if we take the pressure off and have fun with it we always surprise ourselves with our performance.”
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