It was a proverbial kick in the stomach, and with it any aspirations Christine Ohuruogu had of defending her 400 metres title were gone.
Allyson Felix showed she has the propensity to be as dominant a force in the 400m as she has been in the 200m. Her flying start, allied with a stunning kick at the 250m mark, left Ohuruogu trailing in her wake.
“Crap, my title’s gone,” was the Londoner’s thought after the wind was knocked out of her by a breathtaking performance from one of the world’s most talented athletes and she eased off to finish in last place in the 400m final yesterday.
It was not a performance befitting the world champion, who has repeatedly raised her game on the biggest stage from Osaka in 2007 to Moscow six years later. But it has been a season of imperfections and it showed in her running.
Her fluent, confident stride was missing and the manner in which she habitually eats up the track and her rivals in the home straight was turned on its head as the rest of the field pulled away from her.
The heats had suggested that Felix was the runaway favourite, with Shaunae Miller of the Bahamas just behind her, and so it played out in the final. But Ohuruogu’s times had suggested that a medal was possible, her team even talking of the gold.
However, from the moment Felix used her sprint pace to explode out of the blocks, the script appeared all too predictable. Ohuruogu, Olympic champion in the Bird’s Nest stadium seven years ago, tried to go with her rather than run her own race, and paid for it down the home straight.
“I knew she was going to go out hard so I knew I had to try to match that and go out hard as well,” she said. “But she had a kick that I didn’t quite know what to do with. You’ve just got to try and make the best of the situation.”
At 31, Ohuruogu still has time to turn it around for Rio next year. This season is something of a transition after she changed from her long-term coach Lloyd Cowan to Christine Bowmaker, and she hinted it had been a difficult year without divulging more. “I’m not going to be upset,” she said. “It’s a real blessing to even be here as many times throughout the year I couldn’t be bothered to finish the season because the season was so distressing at times.”Reuse content