Team GB's Christine Ohuruogu has vowed to carry on after missing out on gold in the women’s 400m final despite her thoughts of retirement in the run up to the Games.
In recent times, the Londoner’s hopes of defending the title she won in Beijing by running down Sanya Richards-Ross had looked little more than a pipe dream after a litany of injuries.
However, that dream almost turned into a reality last night as she looked close to pulling off a dramatic repeat only for Richards-Ross to hang on despite the roars of an 80,000-strong crowd.
“I was hoping I’d retire some time soon but my coach [Lloyd Cowan] won’t let me,” said Ohuruogu, who grew up in a house just 10 minutes walk from the Stratford stadium. “When I told him I was going to retire he gave me an evil look and a lecture. So I’ve got to keep going I suppose.
“I love what I do. I know it’s never easy and I do complain and gripe along the way as my coach will attest to. I do really love what I’m doing. I’ve not run out of steam yet.”
Whether that means gunning for Rio de Janeiro, by which stage she will be 32, is another matter but Ohuruogu has finally got back to her best after some difficult seasons.
It was only the third time in her career that she had run under 50 seconds, on this occasion 49.70sec. The last time she had done so — at the World Championships in Osaka in 2007 and the following year at the Olympics — she had won gold but, on this occasion, she fell 0.15 of a second short of a successful Olympic title defence.
With the seasons that have preceded this one, Ohuruogu’s silver was a remarkable achievement but she could not hide her disappointment at the finish, spending the few minutes after the race on all fours before lying on her back on the track considering what might have been.
“I was stunned, I was heartbroken actually,” she said. “To lose your title like that was tough. I just wish I’d held on to my title — I really wanted to and I fought hard. She didn’t get an easy ride completely, at least I hope I made it hard for her.
“I always came here for one thing and one thing only and that was continuing my reign so I am disappointed. I felt myself tightening up and I tried to relax. I tried and I tried then I realised no, it’s just not going to happen. I know I should be pleased but I’m just stubborn. I’m very stubborn.”
Her build-up to the Games had effectively started over the winter, training in Jamaica alongside Usain Bolt and Yohan Blake at Glen Mills’s Racers Track Club on the outskirts of Kingston, Jamaica.
That groundwork and an avoidance of injuries had put her in a position to at least dream of gold for this most local of London athletes — the packed stands that willed her on to the win were audible from her parents’ home.
But for all her dogged determination with a typically gutsy run she was unable to reel in the class act that was Richards-Ross, who had lost just once to Ohuruogu in 22 encounters, and that was at the last Olympics.
Ohuruogu paid tribute to that crowd, likening it to her family, some of whom were among those in the stands. She added: “I was so close to home but these people are like family and I know it sounds a bit weird. I’m really proud of them supporting us in their thousands.” It was always going to be a hard act for Ohuruogu, Britain’s sole athletics gold medallist from the last Games, to follow the three golds of the previous night.
But her silver took Britain to half of the medal target that was set by UK Athletics head coach Charles van Commenee.
And the girl brought up in Newham, still has golden ambitions. Retirement is now very much off the agenda
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