When British athlete Christine Ohuruogu MBE won gold in the 400m Beijing Olympics she became the first British woman ever to win the title.
Christine grew up in Streatham, London, just a mile away from the Olympic stadium where in 2012 she added a silver medal to the gold she won in China in 2008. A graduate in linguistics, she is one of eight children and was brought up in a home where Christian values were taught and upheld by the family.
But being a Christian did not mean she was immune from life’s challenges and problems. Amongst the athletic victories, Christine has had to cope with numerous injury problems, the indignity of disqualification, and cruel false accusations from the tabloid press. Christine says it is her strong faith in God that has sustained her through the tough times.
The big league success began for her in 2006 when she won Gold at the Commonwealth games in Melbourne. But disappointment quickly followed when her chaotic training schedule meant that Christine missed mandatory doping tests and was subsequently suspended from all competition for the rest of the year. Faith and determination saw her confound the critics and return to top form in 2007 when, just 24 days after her return from suspension, she won Gold at the World Championships in Osaka, Japan. Just three months later she was cleared by the British Olympic Association for selection for the Beijing games. Just a year later she won Gold again, this time in the Olympics.
Christine said afterwards, “I could never have done this without God.”
Sadly, critics and the cynical unforgiving tabloid press, rather than celebrating her triumph, continued to point the finger. After her outstanding victory at Osaka, the Sun Newspaper as self appointed judge, jury and executioner demanded: “Don’t make this the face of 2012.”
But Christine says that her faith helped her to cope with the critics and to come through the dark times.
“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’s circumstances won’t always keep us low. Things will change, things will get better, but things happen for a reason.
Cruel criticism, especially from your home nation from whom you should be able to expect full support, can often destroy people with a high public profile. Christine gives the credit to God for enabling her to cope.
“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.”
Christine’s security was never in her talent, her training, her achievements or the acclaim of her countrymen. Her security has always been in God.
“This is the message we heard from Jesus and now declare to you: God is light, and there is no darkness in him at all.”
(1 John 1:5)
Beating the best in the World.
Christine’s athletic achievements make her one of Britain’s best ever athletes. Her plethora of awards started when she won Bronze at the 2003 European Junior Championships. She became AAA champion in 2004, and was a member of the Olympic 4x400m team which took fourth place in Athens.
The decade following her European Junior Championship medal brought many challenges for the talented young athlete, but it was also the period of her greatest success with four major titles including three which crowned her as the best 400m runner in the world. She won Gold at the Commonwealth Games in 2006 along with joint first with the England 4x400m team. The very next year Christiana took Gold again at the World Championships. In 2008 she won the most coveted of all titles, the 400m individual Gold medal at the Olympic Games in Beijing. 2009 brought her first place at the UKA Championships 400m together with a Silver at the World Championships. 2012 provider her with an Olympic silver medal and 2013 brought with it a second World Championships Gold medal making Christine the first British female athlete ever to win two 400m World Championship titles.
Christine maintained running at the very highest level before choosing to retire in 2017. In her final three full years of track and field she won medals every year with bronze 4x400m medals at the 2014 World Indoor Championships, 2015 World Championships and the 2016 Olympic Games.
Full list of Athletic Achievements:
2003 European Junior Championships 400m Gold
2004 Olympic Team Member 4x400m Fourth
2005 European Under 23 Championships 400m Silver
2005 European Under 23 Championships 4x400m Silver (Team medal)
2005 World Championships 4x400m Bronze (Team medal)
2006 Commonwealth Games 400m Gold
2006 Commonwealth Games 4x400m First* (Team placing)
2007 World Championships 400m Gold
2008 Olympic Games 400m Gold
2009 UKA Championships 400m First
2009 World Championships 400m Silver
2012 Olympic Games 400m Silver
2013 World Championships 400m Gold
2014 World Indoor Championships 4x400m Bronze (Team medal)
2015 World Athletics Championships 4x400m Bronze (Team medal)
2016 Olympic Games 4x400m Bronze (Team medal)
*Although they came first, the GB 4x400m team were disqualified due to a lane confusion.
Story by Ralph Burden
photo: Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License. Cropped version of Flickr photo by Nick J Webb
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