May 24 2013 Latest news:
Lee Power, Olympic Reporter, at the Olympic Stadium
Sunday, August 5, 2012
Home heartache as defending 400m champion loses crown
Newham’s Christine Ohuruogu made such a brave defence of her Olympic 400m title, running the second-fastest time of her career to claim silver on home turf tonight.
Coming into the home straight in fifth place, the 28-year-old chased hard towards the line, willed on by another great British crowd in the Olympic Stadium.
But American rival Sanya Richards-Ross – who Ohuruogu had passed in the closing stages for victory four years ago in Beijing – held on to claim gold this time in 49.55seconds.
Ohuruogu clocked 49.70, only nine-hundredths of a second outside her lifetime best, to pip DeeDee Trotter to second place in a thrilling finish but said: “I was heartbroken really, nobody ever wants to lose a title.
“I came here with one thing in my mind and one thing only, to continue my reign as Olympic champion, but I am disappointed.
“It’s hard to not let the emotion of wanting to win distract you from your race-plan, but it was tough. Sanya is a worthy competitor, though, and a worthy winner.
“I have to be pleased with what I got. I should be happy with silver. I still thought I had some time, but the line came and it was gone.”
Ohuruogu had sat on her block in lane eight prior to the race, lost in her own pre-race thoughts amidst the loud music and clapping going on around the stadium.
After slapping her thighs, she got to her feet as race officials beckoned the finalists to get ready to race.
Then, after peeling off two pairs of track bottoms and removing her jacket and t-shirt, Ohuruogu had a sip of water, adjusted her shorts and stood with her hands on her hips.
Taking a couple of steps back and forwards behind her blocks, trying to keep her emotions and adrenalin in check, Ohuruogu offered a very slight smile when introduced to the crowd and took a quick glance to the stands as her name was cheered.
Botswana’s Amantle Montsho was just inside Ohuruogu in lane seven, with Richards-Ross another lane over and the American – the most prolific sub-50 runner in history – made a very fast start around the top bend to signal her intentions.
Russian Antonina Krivoshapka produced a charge on the back straight, but Ohuruogu stuck to her guns and as the athletes came off the final bend she kicked hard.
It was nailbiting stuff in the final stages as Ohuruogu closed the gap on Trotter, but she could not get in front of Richards-Ross.
After dropping to her knees, a few metres beyond the finish line, Ohuruogu watched the replay of the race on the big screen behind the Olympic flame.
Then, after rolling onto her back she lay there, flat out, for a few moments to fully get her breath back and take in her achievement.
After getting back to her feet, Ohuruogu clapped the crowd and went off on a slight jog around the top bend, waving to her supporters and congratulating her American rival before collecting a Union Jack flag to fly above her head on a lap of honour.
Warmly received all the way around the stadium, Ohuruogu made the most of her time with the fans.
And she wiped away tears during the medal ceremony, before adding: “Considering the tough four years I’ve had, I should be proud of myself.
“I was emotional, but just really proud of the people who turned up to support me. I was initially disappointed with the medal, but it’s so uplifting to be in a stadium which is proud of you, despite me not getting the medal I wanted.
“These people feel like family. I wanted to thank everyone in the crowd and it is really great everyone has got behind the London 2012 Games.
“It means so much to us, we really couldn’t believe it on the opening day. Every athlete I have spoken to, including non-GB athletes, have all been amazed with the atmosphere and the experience.”
And Ohuruogu has not ruled out a trip to Rio in four more years, adding: “I love what I do. It’s never easy and I do complain and gripe as my coach will attest to!
“But I do really love what I do and I’ve not run out of steam yet.
“I want to put together two to three years of solid 400m running. I was kind of hoping I’d retire some time soon, but my coach won’t let me.
“He gave me an evil look and a lecture so I’ve got to keep going!”
And Ohuruogu will surely have her home borough of Newham and the people of Great Britain right behind her as she looks to continue her journey.