Christine Ohuruogu retains focus in face of injury nightmare

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 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.”

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Photographer / Floorplanner / Domestic Energy Assessor

£16000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Photographer/ Floor planner /...

Ashdown Group: Front-End Developer - Surrey - £40,000

£30000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Front-End Developer - Guildford/Craw...

Recruitment Genius: Customer Service Assistant

£13500 - £15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Customer Service Assistant is...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive - OTE £35,000

£16000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An ambitious and motivated Sale...

Day In a Page

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

How a costume drama became a Sunday night staple
Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers as he pushes Tories on housing

Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers

Labour leader pushes Tories on housing
Aviation history is littered with grand failures - from the the Bristol Brabazon to Concorde - but what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?

Aviation history is littered with grand failures

But what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?
Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of Soviet-style 'iron curtains' right across Europe

Fortress Europe?

Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of 'iron curtains'
Never mind what you're wearing, it's what you're reclining on

Never mind what you're wearing

It's what you're reclining on that matters
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence