As part of her linguistics degree at University College London, Christine Ohuruogu wrote a thesis on swearwords and swearing.

It might have helped her understand some of the words that were coming out of British supporters' mouths when she came storming past Sanya Richards down the home straight on Tuesday night to win Olympic 400m gold.

What a run. What a final 60 metres. What a 49.62 seconds.

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There have been some wonderful displays from British athletes at these Games, but for tactical brilliance, mental strength and sheer determination against an opponent some thought couldn't be beaten, Ohuruogu's storming performance on Tuesday takes the Beijing biscuit.

Ohuruogu just doesn't do silver in major finals.

In her big three finals so far, she's won at the Commonwealths in Melbourne, the Worlds in Osaka and now Olympic gold on a balmy night in Beijing.

On the blocks, the stadium hushed, the blue-sleeved Richards was crouched three lanes outside her, stony-faced and focused.

If the thought of the watching world wasn't enough, that sight alone should have scared here. Richards' personal best is almost a second faster than Ohuruogu's.

Instead, it was the world number one who cracked.

What Ohuruogu seems able to do, better than any of her rivals, is execute perfectly the plan her coach Lloyd Cowan sets her, no matter what the circumstances.

Cowan breaks her race down into sections. He tells her the exact splits she needs at each point, at 100m, 200m and 300m.

The strategy here was to run the first 200m about half a second faster than she had in the semi-final, and then run the second half of the race at exactly the same pace as she had previously.

Even in front of 91,000 people in an Olympic final, Ohuruogu ran those splits to perfection.

Richards, by contrast, threw her coach Clyde Hart's tactics out of the window. Instead of running the first 80m hard, throttling back for the next 100, pushing again round the bend and then piling it on to the finish, she went off like a rocket over the first 300m and had nothing left in the final stretch.

A few weeks back, Michael Johnson criticised Ohuruogu for not competing on the Grand Prix circuit against Richards on a regular basis, saying the lack of regular competition would leave her like a "rabbit in the headlights" out here.

For once, the greatest 400m runner of them all got it wrong. As at the world championships last summer, she timed both her season and her biggest race to perfection.


Ohuruogu knew what she was doing, and the delight when it all came together was there for all to see.

When she was called to the medal podium, the former under-17 and under-19 netball international jumped around with arms raised like a goal defence on a trampette.

"You have to believe in yourself," she said afterwards. "It's not about who is the fastest or the strongest, it's the person who can hold it together when it matters.

"You train for these three days - you don't train for the Grand Prix. You work all year for three days.

"It's all about getting to the final, and once you're there, it's all about who has the greatest will to win."

Richards had said in the run-up to this final that Ohuruogu was "lucky" to be here, a reference to the one-year ban the Briton served after missing three out-of-competition drugs tests in 2006.

When the question was asked again in her victory press conference, Ohuruogu reacted with a mix of resignation and anger.

"I don't care what people think or say," she said. "I'm happy, I've won a gold medal, and that's all that matters to me."

It was hard to not to feel a little sympathy. She'd already explained herself a hundred times, not least in the wake of her win in Osaka.

Out in the bright lights of the stadium, jogging slowly round on her victory lap while towing a Union flag and waving wildly to the pockets of British fans dotted around the three tiers, the happy smile had never left her lips.

British women have a long proud tradition in Olympic 400m finals, from the silvers won by Anne Packer and Lillian Board in 1964 and 1968 to the bronzes of Kathy Cook in Los Angeles and Katherine Merry in Sydney.

Ohuruogu has now topped them all. Not since Eric Liddell in Paris in 1924 has a British athlete won an Olympic 400m title.

Merry was just metres away from the finish line in the Bird's Nest as her successor came home, shouting her on in the final few strides.

She 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.

"For a world-class 400m runner, the quicker you can do a one-off 200, the better," said Merry. "For her that means well under 23 seconds.

"Going into this season, Christine didn't have that. Her strength was never in doubt, but her base speed was.

"So this season she's worked more on her short sprints, her 100m and 200m, and got quicker over the shorter distances.

"Therefore, when she comes to run the first 200m of her 400m, she's not wasting as much energy. It actually feels easier for her."

Ohuruogu will return home to London as the poster-girl for the 2012 Games.

Brought up with her seven siblings just a few miles from the Olympic site in Stratford, east London, she will now have to deal with the same sort of expectations and pressures that faced another 400m great, Cathy Freeman, in Sydney.

But that's for another day. Tonight, she has a gold medal in her pocket. Mission accomplished.

Tom Fordyce is a BBC Sport journalist covering a wide range of events in Beijing. Our FAQs should answer any questions you have.


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  • 501. At 08:29am on 22 Aug 2008, darkvalleysboy1978 wrote:

    ..or perhaps a lighter shade of black? Or darker shade of white?

    Everyone here has to wonder though.
    How is it the Ohurugu's gold seems to be more valuable than Chris Hoy's treble? Just because she's a runner??

    If she was that dedicated to the country she never would have threatened to run for Nigeria....and now they want to make her the "poster-girl of London 2012"? Give me a break!

    There are at least 12 other gold medal winners in the olympics and each is as valuable as the other. Yet they get nowhere near the amount of credit as she has. Not sure why, but it's a shame as each has shown their dedication to their respective sports, and more importantly their dedication to Britain...regardless of heritage or which of the home nations they originate from

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  • 502. At 1:49pm on 25 Aug 2008, crazydangerperson wrote:

    Wow! Well done Christine...not only have you achieved Olympic Gold in extremely trying circumstances, you've also managed to get the nation talking about athletics in a way I've never seen before!

    Regardless of people's opinions, thoughts, 'gut feelings' or otherwise, Christine is an Olympic Champion, and should be treated as such. I for one am glad of the debate her win has created, because it will only increase her profile, and help the cause of UK Athletics as we search for an even greater medal haul in 2012.

    Just a couple of thoughts to finish with.

    1) Have any of the nay sayers actually tried running a 400m? If you have, then you'll have some idea of what Christine put herself through to win that final, to say nothing of the training schedule...

    2) It's probably a bigger insult to Chris Hoy to suggest he should be the 'poster girl' of the 2012 Olympics than it is to accuse Christine Ohuruogu of being a drugs cheat!

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  • 503. At 10:42pm on 26 Aug 2008, logicalopinion wrote:

    Sorry post number 5, but I really do have a problem accepting your argument about Christine 'O' just not being in the right place at the right time for the testers, as they turn up unannounced.

    I can catagorically state that I have been present on several ocassions when Athletes have been called by the testers to say that they will be coming and that they should be available for testing.

    Unfortunately, Christine's Gold medal is a shallow victory - she only has her self to blame, as in many peoples eyes three missed tests really is as good as a positive, and as such people will always be sceptical of her achievments, rightly or wrongly.

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  • 504. At 11:06pm on 26 Aug 2008, logicalopinion wrote:

    Logicalopinion - I would just like everyone to know that I recently posted a very factual comment about Chistine 'O' and her missing three drug tests. However this comment seems to be withdrawn for no apparent reasoning, as I cannot for the life of me see how it could possibly have breached the house rules.

    I can only assume that the BBC wish to censor anything that could possibly taint the integrity of a recent Gold medalist - even though she had already done this to her self.

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  • 505. At 11:08pm on 26 Aug 2008, logicalopinion wrote:

    well done to Christine 'O' superb performance!

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  • 506. At 11:53am on 27 Aug 2008, nathanbloke wrote:

    A few facts:

    3 missed tests IS a doping offence. In the WADA rules, IIRC, which athletics is signed up to, 3 missed tests is a positive doping offence. Any talk of "she hasn't failed a test" is irrelevant. Marion Jones didn't fail a test either. She has commited a doping offence.

    She is also not exactly the most patriotic British athlete, having threatened to run for Nigeria if she was banned from the Olympics by the B.O.A.. Hardly the behaviour of a fine upstanding British athlete. Dwaine Chambers never threatened to run for anyone else!

    We have heroes from Bejing, Chris Hoy winning 3 golds, Bradley Wiggins/Rebecca Addlington winning 2 golds each and setting new world records, many more gold medalists without a whiff of doping offences. Yet the BBC continues to eulogise about Christine Ohurougu, even though she has previously been banned for a doping offence.

    Remember that. Christine Ohurougu has been banned for a doping offence. No mitigation. Not a "lesser" offence. She has been banned for a doping offence.

    Missing out of competition testing is a doping offence for the same reason that taking "masking agents" which aren't in themselves performance enhancing is a doping offence.

    Slightly off topic, did anybody find it strange that the equestrian teams that had horses banned for being doped seemed to be arguing that it was an injustice? The BBC didn't seem to concerned about that either. Anti-doping until its our favourites. The riders that doped their horses should be banned from the Olympics for life - the poor horses had no choice.

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  • 507. At 1:23pm on 05 Sep 2008, NitramNella wrote:

    WELSHIE SAYS: If you have missed two tests but are on steroids/EPO etc....which would you rather do....would you
    a) Take a drugs tests and test positive
    b) Miss a drugs test which gets a shorter ban?

    Clearly the best option is option b

    response: clearly the answer is "b"....but what has this to do with Christine Ohorougu. Are you suggesting anything?

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  • 508. At 11:58am on 10 Sep 2008, NeilG42 wrote:

    She has had more drugs tests than I've had hot dinners and has NEVER tested positive, yes she missed 3 tests but compared to the amount of times she has been tested this pales into insignificance, put it down to absent mindedness, put it down to forgetfullness, even put it down to damn downright stupidity but do not put it down to being a doper who was trying to avoid getting caught, especiallly considering the amount of times she's been tested since she finished her ban. SHE IS CLEAN.

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  • 509. At 01:03am on 12 Sep 2008, lrunfast1977 wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

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