Team GB's Christine Ohuruogu earns silver after late surge

 

Britain's Christine Ohuruogu tonight produced a storming finish to claim a silver medal in the defence of her Olympic 400 metres title on home soil in London.

Ohuruogu, whose family lives so close to the Olympic site in Stratford that she could walk to the stadium, looked out of contention with 120m to go before powering down the home straight in trademark style.

American Sanya Richards-Ross took gold in 49.55 seconds with Ohuruogu clocking a season's best of 49.70secs, just 0.02s ahead of another American DeeDee Trotter on the line.

Britain's athletes have now won four medals in less than 24 hours after golds for Jessica Ennis, Greg Rutherford and Mo Farah on Saturday night, with the pre-Games target set by UK Athletics head coach Charles van Commenee of eight - with just one of them gold - looking highly conservative.

Ohuruogu's time was a season's best by more than half a second and only the third time in her career that she had broken 50 seconds.

On the other two occasions she won the world title in Osaka in 2007, in 49.61, and the Olympics in Beijing the following year, in 49.62, confirming her reputation as someone who delivers on the biggest stages.

That reputation took a major dent when she was amazingly disqualified for a false start at the World Championships in Daegu last year, but a storming leg as Britain won gold in the 4x400m relay at the World Indoor Championships in March indicated she was back to her best after various injury problems.

Sadly for another capacity 80,000 crowd, Ohuruogu's male counterparts failed to even make the final of their event, as Conrad Williams (45.53), Nigel Levine (45.64) and Martyn Rooney (45.31) finished eighth, sixth and fifth respectively in the semi-finals.

"I don't think in all honesty you can call that a decent race," Rooney said. "When I normally open up my stride and pull away in the final 100m it just wasn't there today and that's been the story of this year.

"I've trained hard, made all the sacrifices everyone talks about, I lost a social life and a life of normality with this altitude training I did this year. I did all the work, it just wasn't good enough."

Levine finished ahead of double amputee Oscar Pistorius, who clocked 46.54 in the second semi-final.

And Levine added of his performance: "I am not pleased with that. My aim here was to make the final. I was aiming pretty big for my first Olympics so I have got a lot to work on for next year."

Williams, who faded badly on the home straight, said: "My race was brilliant to 320m, I went out eyeballs out to try to be in the mix, but I needed to be a bit more patient at the top turn to be in a better position for the finish."

There was drama in the final of the men's 3,000m steeplechase as defending Olympic champion Brimin Kipruto was tripped with just 700m remaining and sent crashing to the track.

Kipruto jumped straight back up and sprinted to get back into the pack, but the damage was done and it was fellow Kenyan and world champion Ezekiel Kemboi who produced the decisive finishing burst to claim gold.

France's Mahiedine Mekhissi-Benabbad took silver and Kenya's Abel Mutai the bronze, while the unfortunate Kipruto had to settle for fifth.

Ohuruogu was devastated to lose her Olympic title.

"I was stunned," she told BBC1. "I was heartbroken actually, I really was.

"To lose your title like that, it was tough. But Tanya's a worthy competitor and she ran a good race so I have to be happy with what I got. It good have been worse."

After a storming home straight, it almost looked like Ohuruogu might win it.

She said: "I thought I still had some time but the line came too soon and I thought, 'No, it's gone, it's gone'.

On last night's British heroics in the stadium, she said: "It was great, the guys did really well last night. I think we were all kind of surprised.

"But I always came here with one thing and one thing only [on my mind] and that was to continue my reign as Olympic champ. I'm just a bit disappointed."

Despite missing out on gold, Ohuruogu enjoyed a lap of honour at the end.

"I just wanted to go back and say thank you to all the people who've come up," she said. "They've really made these Games special.

"Everybody I've spoken to - non-British athletes - have all said what a great crowd we have and what a great atmosphere and it's really great that everybody, the whole country, has got behind the London 2012 Games.

"They've all helped to make it the Games it is. They did it. We're just here to perform, but it's the crowd who turn up to support us, even when it's raining and it's cold, they're all here.

"We can only say thank you for getting behind us. It means so much to us. The athletes were buzzing on the first day. We really couldn't believe it.

"It's so nice to have this in your own country, that people just love and appreciate what you do."

Britain's Robbie Grabarz justified his status as a serious medal contender by leading the qualifiers into Tuesday's high jump final, the 24-year-old producing first-time clearances at 2.21m, 2.26m and 2.29m.

World champion Jesse Williams, world number one Ivan Ukhov and defending Olympic champion Andrey Silnov also qualified for what promises to be a high-quality final.

PA

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

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

Day In a Page

Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before