Smith’s track and field season off to golden start

Ollie Smith is off and running at Bedford
Ollie Smith is off and running at Bedford

CHICHESTER’S Ollie Smith is celebrating a golden start to the track and field season.

The British Universities and Colleges (BUCS) Championships are the traditional curtain-raiser to the outdoor season and attracted more than 100 institutions to Bedford.

Smith represented Brunel University in the 400m and 4x400 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 48.8sec) 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, 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 challenge now for Smith is to remain injury-free and compete for Chichester in more favourable conditions.

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 a 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 as 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.

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