O’Hare keen to put past pain behind him at last
Scot relishes chance to compete at Olympics venue after hurt of 2012
OT all anniversaries are a cause for pure, unadulterated celebration. Often the vibe is closer to bittersweet reflection. Such is the case for Chris O’Hare when it comes to his involvement in the London Anniversary Games at the Olympic Stadium in Stratford this weekend.
Prior to his appearance in the Emsley Carr mile this afternoon as he seeks to rubber stamp his qualification for the world championships in Beijing next month, the closest this 24-year-old middle distance runner ever got to competing at that hallowed venue was watching a morning London 2012 track-and-field session with his family, having finished third in the trials and narrowly missed selection for Team GB.
“At that point I was a 3.38 guy, and the ‘A’ standard was 3.35 I think,” O’Hare told Herald Sport. “I can’t remember exactly, I try to block it out of my memory. But I was close enough for it to hurt, put it that way.”
A more pertinent milestone for Scottish competitors, of course, were the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, exactly 12 months ago, but even then they were mainly a repository for disappointment for the West Linton athlete. For all the thrill of participation, O’Hare chided himself for his sixth-place finish at Mount Florida, pledging to make himself a ‘class act’ before his next assault at a major title. Thankfully this transformation is progressing apace.
In addition to a pair of European bronze medals, one outdoor in Zurich last year, and one indoor in Prague earlier this season, now O’Hare can regard himself as a “3.34 guy”. Not only was the 3.34.83secs over 1500m which he ran in Heusden in Holland a personal best, but it was the third fastest of all time by a Scot outdoors. It met the qualifying standard for Beijing and a second qualifying time today over the slightly longer distance would confirm that he will make the cut when British Athletics unveil their team for Beijing on Tuesday. O’Hare already has one world championships final on his resume, a 12th-place finish in Moscow in 2013, and the winner that day, Asbel Kiprop of Kenya, will be alongside him on the start line today.
As it turned out, O’Hare’s personal best was merely one strand of a golden weekend for Scottish middle-distance running. Amid all this talk of Commonwealth Games legacy, Laura Muir, another who left Glasgow 2014 burdened by regrets, celebrates the one-year anniversary of her Hampden heartache by breaking new ground with every passing week. She competed in London last night, her confidence bolstered by a further personal best and Scottish record of 3.58.66secs over 1500m in Monaco which put her second on the all-time list for British women behind Dame Kelly Holmes.
The next generation are getting in on the act, too. While Muir and O’Hare were doing their thing, Josh Kerr, a bustling 17-year-old with whom O’Hare once shared a coach, produced a storming run to take the European Under-20 title over 1500m in Eskilstuna, Sweden. Next up for Kerr is to follow the blueprint of Tulsa graduate O’Hare and progress through the NCAA system at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque.
“All the chat last year was that we had a nice spread of athletes across the team coming into form at the right time but since then we have all progressed,” said O’Hare. “If the Commonwealth Games was in Glasgow in 2015 I think we would be looking at even more medals. But that is the nature of the sport, the major championships only come round so often and you have got to make history while you can.
“Laura is by far one of the most talented people I have ever come across,” added the 24-year-old. “If she chose to do anything she would be successful at it so I am just delighted she chose track and field. Her runs as of late have just been spectacular. She just goes in with that quintessential Scottish attitude where she is going to just get stuck in and give it everything she has got, which is something I can relate to. I’m excited to see what she can do in the next few years and hopefully I can go along with her.
“It’s great to see the people who were on the team at the Commonwealths running so well, and great to see some others coming through, like Josh. I have known Josh since he was smaller than me and he certainly isn’t any more! We both practised under Dave Campbell, and although he has had to retire from coaching, he taught us ever so much.”
O’Hare graduated from the University of Tulsa back in 2013, but now lives in Boston, where he is signed to Adidas, is coached by Terrence Mahon and trains with an all-American cadre of athletes. A Celtic fan, he paraded his European bronze medals around Parkhead late last year, and now spends some of his time watching the other Celtics, the basketball team based in Boston. A top-five or six finish in the world championships is his season’s goal, before the quest begins to make it to Rio in 2016.
“Whilst Charlie [Grice, the British champion from England] is my main competitor in Britain once we get to the world championships it will be a different ball game altogether,” he said. “Hopefully we can both make it to the final, then at that point it is all guns blazing. Hopefully I can be in the top five or six, that is the aim, then once you are in that ball park, it is all about making the most of that opportunity.”
O’Hare, a devout Christian, will marry his Texan fiancée, Meredith, back in Tulsa this October, with his Commonwealth Games kilt in contention for his groom’s outfit. Maybe he will also have another medal, this time a world championship one, in his possession by then.
MAKING A FIST OF IT: Chris O’Hare fell short of the medals at Glasgow 2014, but he’s determined to succeed in Beijing.