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Page last updated at 09:16 GMT, Monday, 4 August 2008 10:16 UK

Brits to watch: Christine Ohuruogu

Christine Ohuruogu

By Sarah Holt

Christine Ohuruogu goes to the Beijing Olympics as one of Great Britain's best medal hopes after claiming the world 400m title last season.

The Londoner pulled off a shock win in Osaka less than a month after serving a one-year drugs ban for missing three out-of-competition drugs tests, though the spectre of her ban still looms over her achievement.

After her World success, Ohuruogu succeeded in getting her Olympic ban lifted and now heads to her second Games with her sights set on the 400m final on 19 August.

The 24-year-old was part of the 4x400m team who finished fourth in Athens and the squad have a real chance of getting on the podium in China.


Born: 17 May 1984, London
Trains: Newham and Essex Beagles club, based in East London
Career highlights: World 400m gold (2007), Commonwealth gold (2006), World 4x400m bronze (2005 and 2007)
Personal best: 49.61 seconds


2008 form: With only four competitive 400m races under her belt before Beijing, on paper Ohuruogu's season looks like a bit of a slow starter. She has not hit her groove yet over one-lap, preferring to focus on testing her speed over 200m.

She ran a season's best of 50.80 secs at Crystal Palace in late July - but in global terms that time is only good enough to rank as the world number 17.

Sanya Richards
American Richards is the world number one and the one to watch

Rivals: The woman to beat is American Sanya Richards, whose PB over 400m is almost one second faster than Ohuruogu's lifetime best of 49.61secs.

Richards has twice broken the 50 seconds barrier this season and has a point to prove too. She wasn't selected for the 400m at last year's World Championships after illness affected her performance at the US trials.

Ohuruogu will also keep one eye on British team-mate Nicola Sanders, who collected World silver behind her in Osaka, as well as a clutch of Jamaican and Russian rivals.

How she could win: Ohuruogu's major victories so far have marked her out as a mistress of shock tactics. But she won't be able to rely on launching a surprise attack in Beijing.

Instead, her endurance and ability to rise to the occasion will be crucial. Expect to see Ohuruogu improve through the 400m rounds and make an impact in the final.

What she says: "It would be nice to go to the Olympics with something a bit faster - but there is more in the tank. Last year taught me that the only thing I need to do is stay focused - everything else is irrelevant."

What you say: "I don't think we should worry about Christine Ohuruogu. Apart from Sanya Richards, Christine can and will beat every other quarter-miler."
Winston on 606

Sporting high: Osaka last year, when she used her powerful finish to reel in race leader Novlene Williams and capture a brilliant British one-two with Sanders.

Sporting low: Ohuruogu hit rock bottom in the summer of 2006 when it was revealed she had missed three out-of-competition drugs tests. Her bout of "forgetfulness" saw her handed a 12-month ban with immediate effect and a lifetime ban from the Olympics.

Ohuruogu, who insists she has never taken drugs, overturned her Olympic ban in 2007. But the effects of the drug saga rumble on with public support for her still split. She says: "I've had to accept that some people won't like you whatever you do."

In action: Heats 16 August from 0500 BST; semi-finals 17 August 1400 BST, final 19 August 1510 BST
The 400m demands endurance and blistering speed with a potential three days of action to get through.


Life before sport: Growing up in East London, Ohuruogu was a huge fan of PE lessons and school sports day but didn't take up athletics seriously until she was 16. Before then she played netball for England at both Under-17 and Under-19 level.

But with a linguistic degree also looming, she ditched the bibs and chose to focus on athletics in 2003. One year later she made her Olympic debut in Athens.

Ohuruogu focused on Beijing goals

Hero worship: Luckily Ohuruogu's hero is also her right-hand man - sprint coach Lloyd Cowan, who is always the first person she goes to for advice.

Ohuruogu says: "He has never let me down, I'm really proud of him." Also on hand, on race days and at home in Stratford, is big brother Obi.

Most likely to: Be found with her head buried in a book. Ohuruogu is a bookworm at heart and admits she was a "swot" at school.

Nowadays, she still gets through at least one book a week, reading anything from fiction to serious political literature. All this studying may well fuel Ohuruogu's ambition to become a teacher once she hangs up her spikes.

Least likely to: Be found ordering a deep pan to go from Pizza Go Go in East London. Ohuruogu likes to sink her teeth into a slice of pizza, with a slab of chocolate for afters.

But coach Cowan bans the tasty treats all season long and will only give the green light for indulgence at the end of the season - providing she's done well of course.

Did you know? Ohuruogu is one of eight children in Jonathan and Patience's clan. As she's the second oldest, after Obi, she still does her fair share of school runs, even though she's now moved out of the family home.

Younger sister Victoria could be running alongside her big sister at the London Games in 2012 after setting a UK Under-15 best of 40.25secs over 300m last season.

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see also
Ohuruogu ready for Olympic test
17 Jul 08 |  Athletics
Britain claim sprint relay bronze
01 Sep 07 |  Athletics
Ohuruogu defends gold medal win
30 Aug 07 |  Athletics
Ohuruogu claims gold for Britain
29 Aug 07 |  Athletics

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