Ohuruogu takes on Richards-Ross
Great Britain’s Olympic 400m champion Christine Ohuruogu will renew her fierce rivalry with current World champion Sanya Richards-Ross at both the Aviva Birmingham Grand Prix and Aviva London Grand Prix this summer.
In an epic rematch of the most recent Olympic and World 400m finals, the pair will go head to head first at Birmingham’s Alexander Stadium on 10 July, before making their way to the capital to match up at the Crystal Palace National Sports Centre on 5-6 August.
The decorated 400m duo first met at Crystal Palace back in 2005 and have amassed a staggering nine major championship gold medals between them.
Injury spells to both athletes meant they did not compete against each other at all in 2010 but anticipation of the rematch is intensifying, with the IAAF World Championships in Daegu just under four months away.
Ohuruogu knows the importance of a competitive outdoor season and has cited the double Samsung Diamond League bout in the UK as the cornerstone of her preparations ahead of South Korea.
Ohuruogu, who won the World title in 2007, said: “The 400m was a bit of a weird event last year, with both myself and Sanya Richards-Ross out for a majority of the season, and only four girls breaking 50 seconds. However the most exciting thing was that ten girls were within a second of each other and every race was very close. I expect it to be similar this year but everyone will be pushing that bit harder to get ready for the IAAF World Championships in Daegu in August. At the moment I’m just making sure I’m in the best possible shape as we get towards Daegu.
“Winter training has been hard work and at times painful but the hours I’ve put in, in both Jamaica and LA, will hopefully bear fruit later in the season.
“I ran in three Diamond League meets last year, but unfortunately didn’t get the opportunity to compete in either of the UK ones, so hopefully I can change that this year. I have fond memories of both the Alexander Stadium and Crystal Palace, plus I love running in front of my friends and family. Since winning the World Champs in 2007 and Olympic Games in 2008 I always get a great reception in the British meets and look forward to the same in 2011. ”
And Ohuruogu is also looking forward to another head to head against Richards-Ross in September, when both line up for their respective countries in the 4 x 400m relay.
Richards-Ross has a fine pedigree in the team events, having won two Olympic golds and three World titles in the relays, but Ohuruogu believes the strength of the Aviva Great Britain and Northern Ireland squad means they can easily improve on their previous bronze medal achievements in recent years.
She added: “From a British perspective, with Nicola [Sanders] hopefully back and healthy and Perri [Shakes-Drayton] running so well we’re definitely shaping up to have a strong relay team. One year out from London it would be nice if we can challenge for individual and relay medals in Daegu this year.”
American Richards-Ross built on her encouraging performance at the Waco Michael Johnson/Dr. Pepper Classic with a first place finish for her USA team at the Penn Relays in Philadelphia at the weekend, where she teamed up with USA team-mate Allyson Felix in the 4 x 400m to record the world’s fastest time this year of 3:22.92.
And with Felix facing Ohuruogu in Manchester on 15 May, just a week after the American opens her Samsung Diamond League account in Doha, Richards-Ross knows the trio will be well aware of each other before a potential match up in South Korea.
She said: “I am happy to be back on the track. My first couple of races have gone pretty well. I feel it will take me a few more races to get back to where I want to be but I am looking forward to it.
“2010 was a frustrating season! Suffering from several injuries and mishaps was very disappointing but I am 100% healthy now and I hope to stay that way for the 2011 season.
“It’s been a while but I have fond memories of competing in the UK although I can’t believe the last time I was at the Aviva London Grand Prix was in 07, it doesn’t seem like it was that long ago. So much has happened since then and there’s still so much to look forward to, particularly with London at the forefront.
“This season will be an exciting one in the 400m. With Allyson Felix attempting the 200/400m double, Shericka Williams and Christine Ohuruogu, hopefully all healthy, I believe the fans are in for some fast times and fierce battles. There are also some fast newcomers that will be added to the mix. This will be a great season!
“Christine and I have met quite a few times but it’s been a while since we raced in the UK, and now the fans have the chance to see it happen twice as we’ll also be up at the Aviva Birmingham Grand Prix. I love racing against the best in the event as I know it motivates all of us to run our best races. That is what track and field is all about!”