Chris Maume: Ohuruogu trails angry young men in race for redemption

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The Independent Online

Maybe it was just cynical old me, and it wasn't the fault of the BBC, but there was a definite feeling of anticlimax after Christine Ohuruogu's victory in the 400 metres in a half-empty stadium at the World Championships in Osaka on Wednesday. The tape broken, there was no celebration from the Briton, who wasn't sure if she'd won.

"Is it me?" she asked the vanquished around her, wide-eyed. "It's you," said Steve Cram in joyful voice-over. You half-expected a big finger to come down from the sky and Cheryl Tweedie to appear with Ashley Cole in a heavenly vision of rhinestone and matching white suits.

Indeed, Ohuruogu must have felt like someone who's won millions on the Lottery, lost her ticket then found it down the back of the sofa minutes before the deadline. But sounds from the sparse crowd were muffled and Ohuruogu seemed almost embarrassed as she took a Union flag and embarked on a lap of honour with her silver-winning team-mate, Nicole Saunders.

Cram and Paul Dickinson worked manfully to add a sense of drama. "There are stories in sport that get dreamt up in books and made into films," Cram enthused, "and this might end up being a film one day, because this is a story that no one could have told. When did you ever see anything like this? Well, I can't remember." And as she dipped towards the line in the replay, Dickinson urged, "Watch this moment of British history" – the first Briton to come back from a drug-related ban to win a gold medal in a major championships, though that's probably not what he meant.

Saunders looked a bit gutted in her interview, and not particularly pleased for Ohuruogu. Perhaps she was feeling like Kelly Sotherton after the heptathlon, beaten by another drug-type-ban returnee.

Ohuruogu was on the defensive from the off in her trackside interview. "What does it feel like to be a world champion?" Phil Jones asked her. "I don't know about that," she said. "For me, I've just won a race." He asked her if she'd like to see a replay. "No," she grimaced. So he showed her anyway. I suspect she's going to have to put up with a lot worse than that from those of us who can't avoid the feeling that all her future achievements will be somehow tainted.

In the first instalment of Amir Khan's Angry Young Men (C4, Tuesday) last week, we saw six young ne'er-do-wells taken under the boxer's wing with a programme of religion, good works and PAL, or "pain-assisted learning." I didn't rate religion's chances of effecting much of a change, what with it being "a pile of wank" in the words of Paddy, 19. And I laughed like a drain at Amir's theory, "If they can control themselves getting punched in the ring I'm sure they can control their lives after."

However ... following yet another binge-related bust-up, they were sent to help at a soup kitchen – and found themselves empathising with the clients. Suddenly, ex-cokehead Tony was off to mass, while in a development so astonishing you had to suspect they were playing up to the camera, two of the others joined Nimat, a Muslim, in praying to Mecca. Perhaps no one is beyond redemption.

Especially not those coming back from suspensions...

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