Ohuruogu targets 'full set of medals'
Wednesday 20 August 2008
Having earned Commonwealth, world and now Olympic 400m gold medals at the age of 24, Christine Ohuruogu is faced with a large question: what does she do for an encore?
The answer - she aims to defend her world title next year, and will then seek to emulate Sally Gunnell by completing her collection of titles at the 2009 European Championships. "I'm looking to go for the full set," she announced today .
By her own admission, she was struggling to come to terms with what she had achieved less than 24 hours earlier. "Maybe it will take me until I retire to realise what I have done," she mused, before breaking into one of her sudden, loud, loopy laughs.
Given the way she hunted down the flagging American favourite Sanya Richards in the final here, Ohuruogu has every chance of succeeding in an ambition which would establish her even more firmly as one of the greatest female British athletes of all time.
The next big question will be: what kind of an impact will she make at the London 2012 Olympics, which will take place five minutes away from the house where she was brought up in Stratford?
She has all the credentials to be the 2012 poster girl, in the manner of Cathy Freeman at the Sydney 2000 Olympics, but the one-year ban she served for failing to be present according to schedule on three occasions when random dope-testers arrived has vexed that issue.
"My job is just to go out and run - everything else is just a bonus," she said. "Defending an Olympic title at home - that would be pressure for anyone. But I would love to be there," she said, adding with a grin: "And if I'm not there, my little sister will be."
Ohuruogu, one of eight children, believes her 15-year-old sister Vicky, who is a member of the Newham 2012 Club, has serious potential. "She'll be better than me, I reckon. That's what they say."
Before the previous night's 400m final it seemed clear that Richards was on edge, while Ohurougu was composed.
Not so, the Briton maintained yesterday. "I thought Sanya seemed very calm in the warm-up area," she said. "It has an effect when you think that someone is that confident when the rest of us are wetting ourselves. I wasn't at my best. After my semi-final I didn't sleep well for two nights, and I felt like I was getting a headache, and it was hot, and it was the final....everything was getting to me."
Being drawn in lane 4, three places inside Richards, proved important to the Briton in that it prevented her getting a clear view of the American as, long hair streaming backwards and arms pumping in what looked like long evening gloves - sadly this Cinderella never got to the ball - she did exactly what she had been told not to do by her coach and went out at killing pace, reaching the halfway point in just over 22 seconds.
"I think it would have messed up my mind completely if she'd done that from the next lane to me," Ohuruogu said. "I watched a recording and I realised I was quite far down coming out of the bend. If I'd known that while I was running I think I think I would have panicked a bit. But Sanya panicked, and that's why she tensed up. It's the worst thing you can do in a race."
The best thing Ohuruogu's coach Lloyd Cowan can do now is to tell her she has no chance of matching Gunnell's achievement. "I like a challenge," she said. "When you're told you can't do something and then you go out and do it - that's what I get kicks out of."
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