Christine Ohuruogu: Optimistic despite recent troubles

Eleven months out from the 2012 Games, there is just the one British track and field athlete getting ready to defend an Olympic title on home ground. When Christine Ohuruogu flew down the finishing straight of the Bird's Nest Stadium to win the 400m final in Beijing in 2008, it seemed that the Stratford girl would be the face of what for her would be a close to home Olympics. Three injury-plagued years on, she is preparing for the 2011 World Championships – which open in Daegu, South Korea, on Saturday - not as a golden hope but as something of an afterthought.

For a third successive summer, Ohuruogu has been firing on less than all of her cylinders. "Many times I thought, 'I can't be arsed to do this any more – scrap the season and just worry about next year'," she confessed. "Many times."

"But then," she said, proceeding in contradictory fashion, "it was always my plan to try to make the championships. No matter how, I wanted to make it."

It is little wonder that the poor woman has been somewhat confused. She happens to be the reigning Olympic 400m champion and yet is ranked only 36th in the world in 2011, and a mere fourth in Britain. Her best time this summer is 51.49sec. Six of her global rivals have broken 50 seconds.

When Ohuruogu emerged victorious from the Barcelona International Meeting on 22 July, it seemed that she was starting to regain something like her old form – form that took her to Commonwealth gold in 2006, World Championship gold in in 2007 and Olympic gold in 2008. But then she could only finish third in the national championships in Birmingham – behind Perri Shakes-Drayton, who will be concentrating on the 400m hurdles in Daegu, and the American-born transferee Shana Cox, who is ineligible to compete for the British team in South Korea.

There was another backward step at Crystal Palace a fortnight ago. Running in the Aviva London Grand Prix, Ohuruogu finished eighth and last in 51.87sec. The truth is the 27-year-old Londoner is still struggling to regain sharpness, with only a limited amount of training behind her since recovering from the blunting setback of a detached quadriceps muscle.

"I know the reality of the 400m," Ohuruogu said. "It's one of the toughest events and you have to follow one of the toughest training regimes. If you haven't put the work in, the other girls have.

"This is a big girl's game. You have to bring everything and be ready for it. You can't miss training sessions here and there. You have to be on it all the time, because these girls are all pretty much after what I have."

What Ohuruogu got in Osaka in 2007 was the world 400m crown in quite exceptional circumstances. She emerged from the one-year suspension she served for missing three drugs tests to take the gold ahead of her British team-mate Nicola Sanders. Hampered by a hamstring injury, she lost the title to Sanya Richards-Ross of the USA in Berlin two years ago, finishing fifth in the final.

Having finished two seconds down on the victorious Richards-Ross at Crystal Palace, it would be one of the upsets of the 2011 World Championships if Ohuruogu were to regain her crown. At the start of the summer she said that "nothing less than a medal" would be acceptable to her in Daegu. Now, despite her continuing struggles on the comeback trail, she is reluctant to revise her target, in public at least.

"My focus never changes for any championship," she said. "My focus going into this championship was always going to be the same. I feel that I've done enough work for me to go out on a good day and run well.

"Other people's expectations don't really matter to me. When I know what I've been through, the only expectation I deal with is the one that I put on myself."

So what is that personal expectation, then, for the reigning Olympic champion and 36th fastest 400m runner of 2011 In Daegu? "I expect that I go out there and do my best," Ohuruogu said. "I want to leave the track knowing that I did everything I could with the time I had."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

Ashdown Group: HR Manager - West London - £50,000

£40000 - £50000 per annum + bonus: Ashdown Group: HR Manager - West London - £...

Recruitment Genius: Recruitment & HR Administrator

£17000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Guru Careers: HR Manager / HR Business Partner

£55 - 65k (DOE) + Benefits: Guru Careers: A HR Manager / HR Business Partner i...

Recruitment Genius: Senior HR Assistant

£23000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The Company's vision is to be t...

Day In a Page

Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

Is this the future of flying?

Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

Isis are barbarians

but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

Call of the wild

How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate
Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

The science of swearing

What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

Africa on the menu

Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'
10 best statement lightbulbs

10 best statement lightbulbs

Dare to bare with some out-of-the-ordinary illumination
Wimbledon 2015: Heather Watson - 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Heather Watson: 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Briton pumped up for dream meeting with world No 1
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve
Dustin Brown: Who is the tennis player who knocked Rafael Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?

Dustin Brown

Who is the German player that knocked Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?
Ashes 2015: Damien Martyn - 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Damien Martyn: 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Australian veteran of that Ashes series, believes the hosts' may become unstoppable if they win the first Test