Ohuruogu rejects inspiration in favour of hero worship


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The Independent Online

Britain's Paralympic track and field squad go into action today with a rallying call from one of the medal winning heroes from the home Olympic athletics squad. Christine Ohuruogu, a 400m silver medal winner in the Olympic Stadium a month ago travelled out to Portugal last week to address the Paralympic squad at their pre-Games "holding camp" in Monte Gordo.

"It was an eye-opening experience," Ohuruogu, who won 400m gold in the 2008 Beijing Olympics, said. "I don't think I've ever seen anything like it. They're incredible people – absolutely incredible.

"They have a quiet grace about them which I've not really seen among other athletes. It's a profound sense of grace that they have. They just get on with what they're doing. They get on as a team. They all appreciate what each other has done and what everyone has to offer. They were saying that I inspired them, but I thought it really should be the other way round. Just hearing some of the stories was amazing – things you could never imagine would have happened to another person.

"It makes you appreciate what you have in life and how hard some others have to work to get what you have.

"Number one, they have to deal with their condition or their disability. And number two, they have to deal with people telling them what they can't do. When we grow up, we're always told in school, 'You can do this' or 'You can do that.'

"But they've always been told, 'You can't do it.' They've always had to fight against society telling them what they can and can't do with their lives.

"They've also had to deal with not having the right facilities for training, not having the right people to watch them train. They've had to fight a lot to get to where they've got to. For me, it was just about telling them that they've already fought the hardest battle.

"Now it's just about doing what they normally do on a daily basis and keeping their momentum going."

Ohuruogu was invited to speak to the squad by Peter Eriksson, the head coach of the British Paralympic team. Her own coach, Lloyd Cowan, is a member of Eriksson's backroom team for the Games.

"After seeing them and meeting them one to one, I really can't wait to watch them compete," added Ohuruogu, who was running in the Diamond League meeting in Zurich last night. "As much as I can, I'll make sure I'll be there."