It has taken the best part of four years, and no little pain on the injury front, but there was finally a spring back in Christine Ohurougu's stride yesterday – and a gold medal around her neck. The Stratford woman who won individual 400m gold at the Beijing Olympics showed a return to form – ahead of what, for her, will be a particularly close-to-home Olympics – with a storming run on the penultimate leg of the 4 x 400m relay final at the World Indoor Championships.
Taking over in third position, Ohuruogu surged past her rivals from the United States and Russia to furnish Perri Shakes-Drayton with a decent lead going into the final leg.
Her team-mate – a fellow East Ender who can see the bowl of the Olympic Stadium from the end of her street in Bow – still had her work cut out to resist the challenge of Sanya Richards-Ross, the American who holds the world outdoor and indoor 400m titles. With a desperate lunge for the line, though, the British 400m hurdles specialist succeeded in doing so, pipping Richards-Ross by 0.03sec before tumbling to the floor.
With a time of 3min 28.76sec, the Great Britain quartet – also featuring Shana Cox and Nicola Sanders – collectively secured what proved to be the second British gold of the championships, following Yamile Aldama's triple jump success on Saturday.
"I didn't really want to come here because I don't like indoors very much," Ohuruogu confessed. "I'm happy now that I did come and that we got a gold medal. I've finished my winter training in one piece with a successful run. I'm in a good place."
For more than an hour after the men's 4 x 400m relay final, the British team were in a good place, having been elevated to the gold medal position after the winning US squad were disqualified for their anchor leg runner lining up in the wrong place. That decision was overruled on appeal, however, leaving Conrad Williams, Nigel Levine, Michael Bingham and Richard Buck with silver.
There were also bronzes for Shara Proctor, who set a British record of 6.89m in the long jump; for Holly Bleasdale, with a 4.70m clearance in the pole vault; and for Andrew Osagie, with a time of 1min 48.92sec in the 800m. All of which left the Great Britain squad with a record haul of nine medals – two more than they won on home soil in Birmingham in 2003.