Former Olympic champion Christine Ohuruogu has hit back at critics who suggested her inclusion in Team GB’s 400m squad for next month’s Games in Rio was unwarranted.
Ohuruogu, an Olympic gold medallist in Beijing in 2008 and silver medallist at London 2012, was handed the discretionary third spot in the 400m Olympic party alongside automatic qualifiers Emily Diamond and Seren Bundy-Davies.
The 32-year-old’s sparring partner for the remaining place was Anyika Onuora. The Liverpudlian held off the challenge of Ohuruogu in the home straight to win bronze in the European Championships final in Amsterdam earlier this month.
Despite that result, selectors opted for two-time world champion and experienced campaigner Ohuruogu, who ran an additional round in Holland compared to Onuora after the 31-year-old was given a bye to the semi-finals. Ohuruogu remains bullish about her selection.
“It wasn’t a lifeline,” Ohuruogu, who joined 15,000 people taking part in the Great Newham London Run at the Olympic Stadium on Sunday, where all the pacers were dressed as Duracell Bunnies to help encourage ordinary runners, told City A.M.
“I don’t think people were clued into the actual facts. I ran a season’s best at the European Championships and my season’s best qualified me to be ranked third in Britain.
“I also had three rounds. Even though I finished fourth I was finishing fourth behind girls who had only run two rounds and that meant it wasn’t an even playing field.
“You can’t be surprised that someone who ran three rounds is finishing behind someone who ran two.
“That was what annoyed me because everyone was like ‘she finished fourth but is getting a pass because she’s Christine’. No, I earned it.
“The selectors picked me after seeing everything. I ran a season’s best, was ranked third in the country and ran three rounds back-to-back, which is a good amount of work for that time of year. That’s what it came down to. I fundamentally disagree with the idea of me being given a pass. I earned it.”
Ohuruogu, famed for peaking at major championships, has also been selected as part of Britain’s 4x400m relay squad for what will be her fourth Olympics, although mere participation offers scant reward.
“In a sense I am happy I’ve made it but you’re not there just to be a team filler, you have to do something and that’s what I am about,” added Ohuruogu. “We don’t really have that long a shelf life in the 400m. It’s a gruelling event. You bash your body mercilessly. It’s not just the race itself but all the training you need to do to get to where you want to go.
“It’s a great opportunity to be part of a great team and some great performances. I want to see how far I can push myself and take this journey.”
Christine Ohuruogu was supporting the Great Run Company and Newham Council’s drive to get more people active. For further details visit:www.greatrun.org/great-newham-london-run