Edinburgh, Scotland
Sunday 24th February 2013
Throughout my career as a sports physiotherapist, I have been extremely privileged to work with some truly inspiring individuals & wonderful characters.  In my current role, working with British Athletics (until recently UK Athletics), one person that fits that description without doubt is 400m runner (& former England schoolgirl netball talent), Christine Ohuruogu.

Several weeks ago, Chrissy & I were discussing my blog.  As a writer & keen mind (it may surprise you to know that Chrissy is a published author of the "Camp Gold" series of children's books), Chrissy displayed some interest in the subjects of my musings & kindly offered to answer a few questions for

So, it is my great pleasure to introduce Miss Christine Ohuruogu...  

OF:  Christine Ohuruogu...please introduce yourself in 20 words or less 
CO:  Former Commonwealth, World & Olympic Champion.  2012 Olympic 400m silver-medallist, won in Stratford, my home town where I grew up.

OF:  As an athlete, what are your 3 greatest assets that have been integral to your success as a 400m runner? 

CO:  Patience, determination & enthusiasm

OF:  On the flip side, what characteristics do you have to work hard on, that if left unchecked would get you into trouble!!!??

CO:  That's a hard question... I am very well disciplined in doing what I need to do.  I've been in competitive sport from the age of 14, so everything has been well ingrained into my psyche. 

I can dwell on things a lot.  I had to work hard on moving on from negative issues very quickly, so it wouldn't affect my training.

OF:  What golden nugget of advice would you give to your 16 year old self if you were able to bend time & space to have a one on one conversation?

CO:  I would tell myself that it's not bad to be wrong sometimes.

OF:  What has been the biggest challenge you have faced during your athletic career & how did you overcome it?

CO:  I have had quite a few moments! 

I think the hardest year was 2011, when I was dealing with a recurring injury.  It frustrated me no end & then to top it off, I got DQ'd [disqualified] in the first round of the 400m at the World Champs in Daegu. For me things couldn't get any worse! 

In order to get over the many disappointments, I had to realize that where I was at the time was temporary & I could only keep pushing on.

OF:  If you hadn't made it as an athlete, what would you be doing right now?

CO:  Not sure.  I did linguistics at university, so possibly something to do with that.

OF:  All the success you have attained to date undoubtedly brings with it some privileges outside of the sport. What have been the best experiences that you have enjoyed as the result of your public profile?

CO:  Another tough one! 

I have had great experiences, many of which I have been able to share with my friends & family. It's great to see their faces light up when they go somewhere they never thought was possible & really enjoy themselves in the process. 

I loved doing Superstars.  I can't remember laughing so much in one weekend.

OF:  At the same time, your profile commands a position of social responsibility. How do you try to inspire or give back to those that you can influence?

CO:  I try to do as much as time & energy levels permit me! 

I currently have set myself a mission of visiting all the schools in my borough of Newham, which was the Olympic borough.  I am doing about a school a week & it's so rewarding. They are wonderful children!

OF:  What piece of advice would you give to an aspiring athlete?

CO:  Passion is important. The same passion that drew me into sport is the same passion that gets me out of bed every day to train.

OF:  Who has inspired you most as an athlete & what was the best piece of advice you ever received?

CO:  I fell into running because I enjoyed running.  

I remember a teacher commenting about my running technique at a school sports day & asking if I belonged to a running club. I didn't at the time & his comment prompted me in search of one.

OF:  You occasionally lead some training sessions for younger athletes, including your sister. What qualities do you admire in a raw talented athlete that make you think "Given the right coaching & mentor, this could be a track star of the future?"

CO:  The ability to work without complaint.  Talent will only get you so far. Hard work will give you a better chance of getting somewhere but you will get nowhere at all without a good work ethic.

OF:  You have had the same coach, Lloyd Cowan, for a number of years now & watching you work together both in training & in competition is fascinating...why do you think the relationship is so successful?

CO:  Its a great relationship.  We have very different qualities but we are both going in the same direction & have the same goals.  I want to see him shine as a coach & he wants to see me shine as an athlete. 

I understand how Lloyd works & have full confidence & trust in him.  If there is ever a problem, it is flagged up there & then, rather than waiting for the problem to fester. 

We both take responsibility for our actions & there are no blame games going on.  If I race badly, I put my hand up & say "I raced badly", I don't blame him, the training, or anything else.  In that way, using complete honesty, we can get to the problem at hand & sort it out straight away.  

We can adjust training methods.  I am involved in my training programme all the way but I allow my coach to have the final say in what I will do.  

I do get miserable at times & my coach understands that.  Sometimes he lets me sulk & other times I get shouted at & told to get to work.   

OF:  If you were to close your eyes & picture the most amazing moment you have experienced in your career to date, what moment would you be reliving?

CO:  I have many to choose from & they are all amazing in their own special way.

OF:  When the seasons come to an end & you get to unwind for a few weeks, what is your biggest indulgence?

CO:  I have a major sweet tooth.  I love sweets, chocolate - Snickers & Lindor are my favourites, but to be honest I will eat anything! 

I love to indulge in pizzas & desserts.  I also love a good juicy burger!

OF:  When the time comes to step back from the starting blocks, what challenges do you fancy taking on?

CO:  Hmmm. I see myself on a beach somewhere doing nothing!!!

OF:  You come from a rather extensive family, with 6 brothers & a sister. How do you think that has shaped you as a person & an athlete?
CO:  It has definitely shaped me.  I learned to have a strong sense of responsibility & discipline from a young age.

OF:  If you were to host a dinner party on, which 5 people would would be at the top of your guest list?
CO:  I would have to have at least one or two of my siblings - I laugh so much when they are around, Margaret Thatcher (a strong woman to discuss politics with), Muhammad Ali & Kim Collins - he has some great stories!

OF:  What will be the title of your autobiography?

CO:  Pursuit of Excellence

OF:  Chrissy, thank you so much for taking the time out after such a hard week of training, to answer some tricky questions.  

I am sure the fascinating insight you have given into the inner mind of a true champion, as well as into the working relationship between coach & athlete, will provide a fascinating read for all that regularly follow the blog.

Best of luck for the forthcoming European Indoor Championships in Gothenburg this weekend & for the outdoor season ahead.

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