Christine Ijeoma Ohuruogu is a British track and field athlete who specialises in the 400 metres, the event for which she is a former Olympic, World and Commonwealth champion. The Olympic champion in 2008, and silver medalist in 2012, she is a double World Champion, having won the 400 m at the 2007 and 2013 World Championships. She has also won four World championship bronze medals in the women’s 4 x 400m relay as part of the Great Britain and Northern Ireland team and bronze Olympic medals with the women’s 4 x 400m relay at the 2008 Beijing Games and the 2016 Rio Games, her final Olympics.
Ohuruogu’s personal best time of 49.41 seconds, set at the 2013 World Championships, beat the UK record set by Kathy Cook in 1984 by 0.02 seconds, simultaneously making her the first British female to win two World Championship titles, and the first British female to win three global titles. Her relay bronze at the 2016 Summer Olympics made her only the second British track and field athlete, after Steve Backley to win medals at three successive Olympic Games. She is coached by Lloyd Cowan.
In 2003 Ohuruogu was a bronze medallist at 400 m at the European Junior Championships. She became the AAA champion in the 400 m in 2004, was a semi-finalist in the 400 m at the Athens Olympics of 2004, also taking part in the 4 x 400 m relay team that finished 4th. In the 2005 European Under 23 Championships she took the silver medal, losing individual gold by a hundredth of a second. She also won silver in the 4 x 400 m relay.
After reaching the semi-final at the 400 m at the 2005 World Championships in Athletics she won a bronze medal in the women’s 4 x 400 m relay together with Lee McConnell, Donna Fraser and Nicola Sanders.
Ohuruogu won a gold medal for England in the 400 m at the 2006 Commonwealth Games in a personal best time of 50.28 seconds, beating favourite Tonique Williams-Darling in both the semi-final and the final.
She was banned for a year for missing three out-of-competition drug tests; one in October 2005 and then a further two in June 2006.
Within 24 days of the end of her year-long competition suspension she returned to win the gold medal at the 2007 World Championships in Osaka. Fellow British athlete, Nicola Sanders won silver with Novlene Williams of Jamaica third. Ohuruogu won all three of her individual races at the world championships – her heat, her semi-final and the final.
2006 Commonwealth Games Relay controversy
At the 2006 Commonwealth Games, Ohuruogu missed out on a gold medal due to a mix-up caused by other members of her team. She ran the final leg in the 4 x 400 m relay for England, where the team finished over a second ahead of Australia, with Ohuruogu pulling away at the end. However, after the race the Australians were awarded the gold medal, after they protested that the English team had breached IAAF Rule 170 earlier in the race, when Danvers-Smith changed position with Tamsyn Lewis. Australian winner Jana Pittman offered the England team her gold medal, stating “They set the fastest time of the day and England are the winners of the race”.
Ohuruogu (in dark blue, centre) winning the 400 m at the world championship in Osaka
Christine Ohuruogu was suspended from competing in the 2006 European Athletics Championships because she had committed a doping violation.She missed three out-of-competition drug tests, known as the “whereabouts” system, of the World Anti-Doping Code; one in October 2005 and then a further two in June 2006. Under IAAF and British Olympic Association rules, she received a one-year ban for missing these tests, which expired on 5 August 2007. The final test missed occurred when Ohuruogu failed to inform the testers of a last-minute change of training venue after a double-booking. Due to the circumstances, the Independent Committee stated “There is no suggestion, nor any grounds for suspicion, that the offence may have been deliberate in order to prevent testing,” and that a fair ban would have been 3 months. Ohuruogu passed tests 9 days before and 3 days after her final violation.
The British Olympic Association also imposed a lifetime ban on competing at future Olympic Games for Great Britain. She appealed to the Court of Arbitration for Sport, but the original decision was upheld, even though CAS emphasised that there was no suspicion of doping. Ohuruogu submitted a further appeal, citing the precedent of triathlete Tim Don. Ohuruogu suggested that she would probably leave Britain and compete in the Olympics for another country if it was unsuccessful, but confessed “I haven’t really given it any serious thought.”. Her Olympic ban was over-ruled on 27 November 2007.
A day after her ban was finished, Ohuruogu was selected for the British team at the 2007 Athletics World Championships. She had only run five competitive races before the final since her suspension; however, she won the individual 400m, taking the only gold medal for Great Britain at the Championships. Nicola Sanders won silver. Ohuruogu was also part of the bronze medal winning team in the 400 m relay. Although she became the World Champion, she was ranked No. 2 in the world behind Sanya Richards.
In Beijing, Ohuruogu won her heat against Yulia Guschina who finished 0.18 seconds behind. She won the semi-final over Shericka Williams by 0.14 seconds. In the final she became the first ever British female 400m champion, by beating the pre-race favourite Sanya Richards (bronze) and Shericka Williams (silver), with a time of 49.62s, the fastest time of 2008. She was once again ranked No. 2 in the world over 400m behind Sanya Richards. Ohuruogu was also part of the bronze medal winning team in the 4×400 m relay, initially finishing 5th but being upgraded to 3rd place following subsequent disqualifications for drugs offences of the teams finishing in 3rd and 4th place.
In preparation for the European Indoor Championships in Turin, Ohuruogu set personal bests in the 60 metres and 200 m at the Birmingham Grand Prix. She competed at the 2009 Manchester City Games, finishing second in the 150 metres final in 17.10 seconds. She ran a personal best 22.85 seconds to take second place in the 200 m at the Fanny Blankers-Koen Games. While she won the 400 m national title at the UKA Championships in Birmingham that July, her times and finishes over the distance at IAAF Golden League meets were unimpressive. She had failed to break 51 seconds in the 2009 season; some distance behind world-leader Richards’ best of 49.23 seconds. A hamstring problem caused her to withdraw from the London Grand Prix, raising doubts that she would be able to defend her World title. Ohuruogo’s form improved in time for the 2009 World Championships, and she set a season’s best time in her semi-final heat.She ran another season’s best of 50.21s in the final, well behind Sanya Richards, who won in a time of 49.00s
2011 Athletics World championships
Ohuruogu was selected for the British team at the 2011 World Championships. She was disqualified from the individual 400 m after a false start.
2012 IAAF World Indoor Championships
Christine, after legs from Shana Cox and Nicola Sanders took over in third place for Great Britain. Ohuruogu handed over to Perri Shakes-Drayton to hold off Sanya Richards-Ross to win Great Britain’s first ever IAAF World Indoor Championships medal in the Women’s 4x400m relay.
Ohuruogu won the silver medal at 400m in the 2012 London Olympics. In a close race Sanya Richards-Ross held on to take the gold while Ohuruogu produced a fast finish to beat DeeDee Trotter and Amantle Montsho by just a few hundredths of a second to take the silver. Trotter took bronze and Montsho, the World Champion finished fourth. Richards-Ross won in 49.55s; Ohuruogu ran a season’s best time of 49.70, which is only the third time she has run under 50 seconds. Ohuruogu said she was “heartbroken” to not be able to defend her title. With her family home less than a mile away from the Olympic Stadium in Stratford, she had been picked out as the public face of the Games when London was awarded the Olympics in 2005, but after her suspension her image was removed from publicity material. Ohuruogu had a low-key build up to the Games, with the burden of “poster girl” falling instead on Jessica Ennis.
2013 Athletics World championships
Ohuruogu claimed a second World Title on 12 August 2013, becoming the first British woman to do so, by winning the 400m final in Moscow. A late surge helped her pip Amantle Montsho in a photo finish, and beat Kathy Cook’s long-standing British record in the process, with a time of 49.41s, beating Montsho by 0.004 seconds.
2014 Athletics World Indoor Championships
Ohuruogu only entered the 4x400m Women’s relay, alongside her sister Victoria Ohuruogu, attempting to defend the title that Great Britain won at the 2012 IAAF World Indoor Championships in Sopot. However Ohuruogu alongside her teammates finished in bronze medal position.
2015 Athletics World Championships
Despite an injury-ravaged season, Ohuruogu reached the final of the 400m as the defending champion. She finished in eighth place with a time of 50.63.
She led off the British 4x400m relay at the same championships, helping them to win a bronze medal.
Ohuruogu won the bronze medal at the 4x400m relay in the 2016 Rio Olympics, running the final leg. Running the first three legs were Eilidh Doyle, Anyika Onuora and Emily Diamond, and they finished in a time of 3:25.88, behind the USA and Jamaica. This was Great Britain’s first medal in the event at the Olympics since 1992.