WRITTEN FOR SKYSPORTS
After finishing fourth at the semi-final stage on three occasions and placing in the same position in a final last winter, the past four major international championships have made 800m runner Andrew Osagie determined to make a bigger impact at the Olympics this summer, writes Nicola Bamford.
The 23-year-old from Essex just missed out on the medals at the European indoor Championships in Paris last March, showing a marked improvement since failing to reach the World indoor and Commonwealth Games outdoor finals a few months earlier in the 2010 season.
Last summer, too, he stepped up a gear to miss out on the World outdoor final in Daegu, South Korea yet the frustrating number ‘four’ seemed to be haunting the London-based athlete on the big stage.
2012, however, is the year in which Osagie intends to reverse his fortunes on the track, for - following a strong spell of altitude training in Kenya – he is looking to sprint into the medals at the World indoor event in Turkey next month, with a longer-term view to success on his Olympic debut in London in August:
“My goal - as will be most of Team GB's athletes - is to get in that final, it would be rude not to!” he explained on his intent in the British capital.
“I've had so many things to worry about day-to-day for any sort of pressure of London to get to me really.
“I just think about enjoying racing where ever, whenever so if that 'where' is London and the 'when' is 2012, I want to be there.”
Guided by Craig Winrow at their St Mary’s University base, Osagie has enjoyed a steep development curve since reducing his times by five seconds in the 2007 season.
His breakthrough came in the summer of 2009 when he reached the heats of the European under23 Championships, before launching himself onto the senior scene with UK indoor gold and as Team GB regular the following year.
A black belt in karate, Osagie’s best year to date started with a 1:46.59 lifetime best indoors in Stockholm twelve months ago, which propelled him to sixth on the British all-time list and to an exciting summer campaign.
Following his capture of the UK outdoor title in Birmingham in July, he registered a fine 1:45.36 personal best in London to improve by over a second from the previous year and end the season as the nation’s number-two behind European silver-medallist Michael Rimmer, before the promising global outdoor debut in Asia.
Osagie revealed his thoughts on the year:
“2011 was mainly positive - the indoor season went well for me, though fourth place was the most frustrating position to finish but I took a lot of experience and encouragement from it.
“I picked up an injury during the spring months which meant I missed eight weeks of running - this was another frustrating period for me because I couldn't do exactly what I wanted to do.
“At the world championships I was happy enough with getting through to the semi-final but it only showed me how close I am getting to where I want to be - coming so close with so much training missed can only mean good things.”
Spurred on by the disappointments and close-calls in the past, Osagie is looking ahead to the Olympic year with optimism.
He will compete on his ‘favourite’ track at the Aviva Grand Prix indoor event in Birmingham in a fortnight from now, searching for an early twenty-fourth birthday present as well as to maintain his stranglehold on the British number-one position from the past two winters.
After Turkey, though, all focus will be on staying healthy and on London later in the summer:
“Winter training started better than ever again which was promising, however, out in Kenya on a UK Athletics training trip funded by the Virgin London Marathon, I picked up a niggling knee injury due to the uneven ground,” Osagie explained.
“Learning from last season, I have been training in the gym when possible and running is slowly improving now - I'm now looking forward to racing indoors with the possibility of again going to the World Indoor Championships.”
Continuing, he provided his thoughts surrounding the fierce competition even to qualify for the Games:
“I never really go into a season with specific time targets as I don't want to limit myself - I guess the first time target is another Olympic ‘A’ standard and then I would like to be in the shape to run 1:44 by the end of July,” he said.
“The men's 800m in Britain is finally looking stronger but at the same time the event internationally is stronger than it has been in ten years - I finished 2011 as British number-one on merit despite a short season so my aim is to earn that position in 2012.”