Ohuruogu: ‘I’ll be fit for Berlin’

Report by Ian Cole, main photograph by Steve Rowe
Christine Ohuruogu says she will be fit to defend her world 400 metres title in Berlin next month.

Britain’s Olympic gold medallist was reported to be “a bit of a doubt” at this week’s team announcement, but she told a lunch gathering of SJA members in Fleet Street today: “It’s just a slight niggle. A bit of a hamstring strain. I didn’t race at Crystal Palace so I didn’t make it worse. But I’ll be there in Berlin.”

Not that defending her crown is weighing too heavily on her mind. “I don’t categorise my races like that,” she said. “I just see it as another championship, rather than the defence of a title.

She explained her preference for championship racing over the Grand Prix circuit. “My priority has always been to go for championships, no matter what other races are around. The way athletics is, there is always a major championship coming up so there isn’t too much time to look around.”

Ohuruogu returned from Beijing a year ago with Britain’s only track gold medal of the 2008 Olympics. But she refutes the suggestion that athletics has slipped behind cycling and rowing in Britain’s Olympic priorities. “Track and field is still No.1 in most people’s eyes,” she said.

“There is huge support for athletics. You only have to look at the numbers who turn up at Crystal Palace each year — and that augurs well for 2012.”

Talk of the London Olympics brings a sparkle to Ohuruogu’s eyes. The girl from Olympic borough Newham still marvels whenever she drives past the fast-growing Games site in Stratford.

“It’s really weird. It’s been reared from dirt. It makes me really proud of London and of my borough.

“People don’t yet realise what it means to be hosting the most prestigious sporting event in the world. I tell people in Newham: ‘Take a drive past, walk there even, get on your bikes…’. It’s an unreal feeling.”

Ohuruogu, with other athletes, had a hard-hat tour of the site recently, standing on the finish line and the 400 metres start.

The London Games are still three years away and Ohuruogu realises there is a lot of hard graft ahead of her at the Lea Valley Centre which, thanks to Lottery funding, is her training base.

“I was fortunate to leave university in 2005 and go straight into full-time training knowing that, thanks to Lottery funding, I’d be okay financially and have the best training facilities. In addition, there are very good physios and doctors on hand to pick me up if I break down.”

Despite being a world and Olympic champion, Ohuruogu has yet to win the SJA’s prestigious Sportswoman of the Year award, having been pipped in 2007 by multiple cycling world champion Victoria Pendleton and last year by Becky Adlington’s double Olympic gold. Maybe Berlin 2009 will see the runner produce a performance to rectify that omission.

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Coverage of the SJA’s working lunch with Christine Ohuruogu:
PA Sport
The Guardian
The Sun
Daily Mail
Sky Sports
More Than The Games

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