After claiming a silver medal at the Olympic Games last August, Christine Ohuruogu felt the need to ease the foot off life’s accelerator.
Having struggled with consistency, the Londoner had produced her best when it mattered most, coming so close to retaining the title she claimed in Beijing four years earlier before succumbing to the undoubted power of Sanya Richards-Ross.
Now 28, she has already trained her sights on Rio. However, a period of reflection and relaxation was required. “I wasn’t in a position to go back into full training after the Games,” she confirms. “I was just enjoying what I did in the summer.”
Ohuruogu’s gentle easing back into the fray will continue today in Sheffield at the UK Indoor Championships, where she will run the 200 metres. Her coach Lloyd Cowan is trying to instil a new tactical approach that might see his charge rely less on her finishing speed. It was given a low-key debut yesterday over 60 metres when she reached the semi-finals, but although she covets a relay spot at next month’s European Indoors in Gothenburg, these are still very much early days.
“We haven’t really done as much as we typically would have done,” Ohuruogu revealed. “It’s nice to allow the body a chance to rest. So there were four easy months until we started training properly in January. It’s what we felt the need to do.”
Jayne Nisbet claimed bronze in the high jump with a leap of 1.78 metres in her first competition since sustaining an ankle injury in last year’s Olympic trials. The Scot was sidelined for the remainder of the summer, opting for patient rehabilitation rather than a speedy return. She was bested by long-time rival Emma Perkins, whose best of 1.81m edged out Morgan Lake into second, with Nisbet a notch behind but with more, she believes, in reserve.
“I’m still disappointed I didn’t get higher,” said Nisbet. “I’ve not felt that good in such a long time. But to come away with a medal with the highest season opener I’ve ever done is a big positive.”
Lasswade’s Guy Learmonth breezed into this afternoon’s 800-metres final with a comfortable win in his heat and he will now target the top-two finish he requires for automatic selection for the Europeans. “I’ve worked hard. I’m confident in my running. And I’ll be the same in the final. I have the Europeans as my goal and I want to be on that plane to Sweden.” Holly Bleasdale moved top in the world rankings, winning in the pole vault at 4.77m.
Meanwhile, Scottish sprint prospect Tom Holligan believes he can make a breakthrough this season, having soaked up his would-be rivals on the world stage. The 18-year-old from Edinburgh, who competes today in the 200 metres, has established himself as a potential international-class competitor through strong showings in the junior ranks. And he feels equipped to start making his mark on a wider stage.
“Last year was mixed because I did get the sprint double at the Scottish Championships and I improved my PB over 200 metres,” said Holligan. “But then my hamstring really started playing up before the world junior championships.
“But I learnt so much from that, just being around so many good athletes, seeing how they prepare and what their approach is to sprinting. I knew that I probably wasn’t ready to cope with the individual event then, but the relay gave me a taste of it. And I really want to go out now and make sure I’m at the European juniors.”