I made my daily (frequent) pilgrimages to the BBC news website earlier today, and was delighted to find the headlines that:
Christine Ohuruogu won Olympic 400m gold for Britain with a stunning surge down the home straight in Beijing!
The line, taken from “ Ohuruogu grabs gold for Britain“, really summarises the amazing performance by the athlete. I watched the event on the video player (hopefully international readers can also watch the video) that showed the entire finals from the starting blocks to the parade after the sprint, and strangely, although I already knew the result, it didn’t stop the onset of nervousness that always seem to accompany ‘live’ viewing of competitive events that involve team GB.
This is probably because for about the first 300 metres, Christine Ohuruogu really didn’t look as though she was in contention for gold at all. I’m going to put this down as me being an unseasoned 400m viewer, but after watching America’s (title favourite) Sanya Richards leave her fellow runners behind in the first half of the race, I could barely watch the last stretch. But oh my god, didn’t Christine Ohuruogu impress at the end?
In that very last stretch, her speed suddenly increased and she emerged from the ‘pack’ (I mean this) of 400m sprinters to power ahead into gold! It was actually a very surreal experience watching it, dare I say a bit like watching Usain Bolt‘s captivating Men’s 100m Final performance, except she didn’t slow down.
And after reading a few more articles, it is almost for sure that the tactical performance of Christine Ohuruogu during this big moment and all of her hard work in training has paid dividends and won her this precious medal. The BBC’s Tom Fordyce called her win ‘A Tactical Masterpiece‘, where he mentions her coach, Lloyd Cowan, as one of the key players in this campaign; although according to TF, Katherine Merry (bronze medalist of the 400m in Sydney) believes that:
the victory had its roots in Ohuruogu’s decision to spend the first half of the year working on her one big weakness… …short sprints.
What is clear is that this win will go far in taking her away from the doldrums of the past two years, where she was banned for a year due to missing 3 random drug tests. I didn’t follow the story very closely, but it was genuinely sad that this could taint an otherwise impeccable record (she has won a medal at every major event that she has attended) from an obviously talented athlete and I am just very very glad that she has taken the top prize of the event. As the Telegraph’s Richard Edwards and Richard Spencer so succinctly put it (in their excellent article about Christine Ohuruogu):
From hero, to zero, to hero again.
So a huge congratulations to Christine Ohuruogu and also to all the other Olympic medalists today, such as Victoria Pendleton and Chris Hoy (both cycling), Paul Goodison (sailing) and Germaine Mason, who took silver on his Olympic debut for the high jump – a ‘wild card’-esque entry who wasn’t expected to win any medal. Their combined efforts, along with the rest of the GB team, have shot us to a mind-blowing third on the medals table! The gold medal tally of 16 is certainly the best that Great Britain have seen in a century!