Despite his surprise British title win in a big personal best time recently, sprint hurdler Tade Ojora says we could see better yet from him at the European Athletics Under-23 Championships in Tallinn this week.
The Windsor, Slough, Eton & Hounslow athlete clocked 13.38 seconds at the Muller British Athletics Championships as he capitalised on a mistake by world indoor 60m hurdles champion Andy Pozzi. However, although this took 0.19 seconds from his best, he says he had been expecting bigger improvements.
Ojora, who will be ranked third among the entries when he lines up in the heats of the 110m hurdles in Estonia on Friday, said: “I hoped I’d be dropping faster times at this point of the season, but next week I’m going to show what I can do. I’m not going to say what my goal is, but I’ll tell you if I hit it or not after!”
The 21-year-old has been at university in the States where his progress may have been a little hidden. It’s perhaps why few eyes were on him at the Olympic trials, where he stole gold with a time that was just 0.06 outside the Olympic standard.
“Last weekend I myself knew what I could do,” he said. “Obviously, no one else knew what I could do, which is why the commentators didn’t speak about me the whole race. That’s fine by me.”
What on paper could look like a leap forward is nothing more than a natural progression, pointed out Ojora, who got down to 13.68 in 2019 but then had only one race last year due to the pandemic. “I’m just catching up,” he said.
He was talking after his race at a National Athletics League match in London last Saturday, which he won in 13.81 into a headwind of +2.3m/s.
“The wind was pretty strong, that was good practice for me,” he said. “Obviously, European Champs next week, it was nice to get over some hurdles. I did what I came here to do so I’m pleased with my performance today. I was trying not to strain anything before the champs, it was just a nice controlled run.”
That said, he could have been forgiven for opting against a low-key race less than a week before what is now his main championships of the season. However, he added: “I was just meant to have a practice today but then the opportunity came for me to have a race and I thought, ‘Sure why not? This could be good practice for me, just to get over some hurdles.’”
Clearly a supporter of grassroots athletics, he said: “It’s always a great opportunity for me to come and run these races, get some times down, compete against good competition and show people what I can do.”
Adding that league athletics had played a big part in his development as an athlete, he said: “I hope to be able to give back to this league what’s it done for me.”
— Tade Ojora was speaking at the National Athletics League. See https://www.nationalathleticsleague.org.uk or follow @nat_ath_league on Twitter for more.