Chichester’s Ollie Smith is celebrating a golden start to track and field season.
The British Universities and College (BUCS) Championships are the traditional curtain-raiser to the outdoor season and attracted more than 100 institutions. Smith represented Brunel University in the 400m and 4×400 team relay – in some style.
His spirits were relatively high going into the event as he had previously beaten the Southern Athletics League 400m record (posting 48.8 sec) while competing for Chichester at their first league match of 2015 at St. Mary’s University, Twickenham.
Since January, Smith had had been struggling with a back injury sustained in training. But Iain Littlejohn, a sports therapist at the University of Chichester, and Professor Greg Whyte OBE, an exercise scientist from Harley Street, devised a programme of rehabilitation which resulted in him being able to re-start training.
The physical and psychological challenge of competing at such championships is significant and it was not known how well he would cope with such demands.
The rules for the individual 400m required athletes to compete in heats on the Saturday, semi-finals on Sunday and the final on Monday. In his first race Smith won his heat in a season best of 48.48sec – particularly pleasing as it was in the strong gusty wind.
In the semi-final, again in strong wind and rain, he finished second in 49.31s, putting him in the final. Running out of lane seven, Smith attacked the final race and finished a creditable sixth in a time of 48.63. Two hours later, Smith ran the first leg of the 4x400m relay final in 48.8. He described the lap ‘like running with wooden legs’.
Over the second, third and fourth leg the Brunel team established a commanding lead, winning gold in a time of 3.10.74. This was five seconds faster than the previous Brunel record and only 0.5sec behind the BUCS all-time record. Indeed, this is the second-fastest time run by British athletes this year. The challenge now for Smith is to remain injury-free and compete for Chichester in more favourable conditions. There is a big chance for him to beat his 400m PB of 47.98s