Olympic champ Ohuruogu runs on faith

Posted by Hefin Rhys Jones  ·  Be the first to comment

It will be a case of going “back to her roots” for Christine Ohuruogu this summer when the 400m champ takes part in her third Olympics.

And roots are what she has had to draw heavily upon over a traumatic few years, which saw her rely on her faith to sustain her through a series of set-backs.

Christine Ohuruogu - she thanks God for a return to winning ways.

Londoner Ohuruogu grew up in Streatham, barely a mile from the Olympic stadium, and will be looking to win her second consecutive Gold after her Beijing triumph in 2008.

After an injury plagued 2011, compounded by disqualification at the 2011 World Championships, the Linguistics graduate looks to be on the up again, after helping the GB 4x400m relay team earn Gold earlier this year at the World Indoor Championships in Istanbul.

The first British woman to win Gold in the 400m, her career has been one of dramatic highs and lows.

One of 8 children raised by Nigerian parents in a Christian home, the 28-year- old has a strong faith, which has sustained her through tough times in her career and life.

Two years into her Pro career, and after striking Gold at the 2006 Commonwealth games in Melbourne, she was banned for one year after missing three ‘out of competition’ tests over a period of 18 months.

She put this down to a “chaotic training schedule” spread over two different grounds which meant that she ended up in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Even the Court of Arbitration which rejected an appeal against the ban, accepted her story, stating: “There is no suggestion that she is guilty of taking drugs in order to enhance her performance or otherwise, and indeed, this case can be viewed in all the circumstances as a busy young athlete being forgetful.”

But under BOA (British Olympic Association) rules any doping offence brings an automatic life ban, so many people thought that her career was over.   

However, a combination of faith and sheer determination saw Ohuruogu confound her critics -  training really hard during her year out, and making her return to Athletics at the 2007 World Championship in Osaka, Japan,  just 24 days after the end of her ban.

Only five competitive races later she was in the final, winning gold to cap off a tremendous return.

Three months later she was cleared by the BOA for Olympic selection, completing her amazing rehabilitation by striking gold in Beijing and crediting God with this triumph: “I could never have done this without God” she said. 

But insults such as “Druggie’’ followed her around, with parts of the media highly critical of her. The Sun Newspaper demanded: “Don’t make this the face of 2012” after her Osaka Triumph, and another Newspaper deemed her Beijing Gold “Tainted”.

But her faith helped her to understand and come through those dark times. She told an interviewer: “I believe that everything that happens has a set path, that it is planned out before, so I have to trust that whatever happens to me is for the best. It may not seem to be the best at the time but you have to trust that it has a divine purpose. We have to remember that life circumstances won’t always keep us low. Things will change, things will get better, but things happen for a reason.”

These experiences have also strengthened and deepened her faith: “I have learnt that life is like an elastic band. Sometimes our faith will be stretched so much and we may find ourselves flat on our face, but if we remain faithful we will bounce back. We have to trust that whatever happens, God is in control.”

 Don’t bet against her picking up another Gold this summer.

26th June

June 26th, 2012 - Posted & Written by Hefin Rhys Jones

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