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David Omoregie reflects on 2016 and support from the Jean Pickering Olympic Scholarship

David Omoregie reflects on 2016 and support from the Jean Pickering Olympic Scholarship

David Omoregie reflects on 2016 and support from JPOS

TALLINN, ESTONIA - JULY 11: David Omoregie of Great Britain wins the Men's 110m Hurdles on day three of the European Athletics U23 Championships at Kadriorg Stadium on July 9, 2015 in Tallinn, Estonia. (Photo by Joosep Martinson/Getty Images)

(Photo by Joosep Martinson/Getty Images)

Reflecting on 2016 and my final year on the Jean Pickering Olympic Scholarship programme, it’s been a year of many ups and some downs. I have enjoyed continuing my university studies at Loughborough after effectively taking a gap year in 2015, finding that this has brought more structure and routine into my day to day life, since training full time.

Of course as many student-athletes know being in university and training full time is a challenging, demanding and difficult task in which you find yourself relentlessly busy and finding ways to ensure you can implement and accomplish the best achievement you’re capable of in both, without jeopardising the other.

After the indoor season, from running a new PB of 7.68 and winning a bronze medal at the British indoor championships, I went straight back into training at Loughborough before our group headed off to Orlando, Florida for a month spring break. The sunny days of Florida were amazing and set the perfect stage for our group to put in the final high-intensity preparation for the important season ahead. I was able to put together possibly some of the best training I’ve done so far in my career which put me in a great place and filled me with a lot of confidence ahead of the outdoor season. As well as keeping my prime focus for the outdoor season, I also had to prepare for my summer exams which I found, in the end, to become quite detrimental to my 2016 season.

Coming back from Florida I was straight back in to university flow which involved me having to meet a lot of assignment deadlines before the end of the semester 2, after which we were straight into the summer exam period. This period lasted for about a month and coincided with the full-swing of the outdoor season. In all honesty this wasn’t ideal and resulted in me not racing particularly well at the beginning of the season. As you could imagine this was a really stressful period for me as I was still chasing the Olympic qualifying time whilst trying to make sure I had done enough to get through to the second year of university.

Thankfully, the summer exam period ended and coming off it I felt a massive weight lift from my shoulders. I had 2 weeks to fully focus and get back in to the shape and rhythm I grasped in Florida, to prepare for the imminent Olympic trials. During this period I had two races which produced a massive drop in my season’s best performances which was understandable given the weeks I had before. Despite making a few mistakes in these races and not running as fast as should I had a lot of confidence heading into the Olympic trials that I was getting quicker and things would hopefully come together and the right time.

Trials came and I was feeling in really good shape. I was able to run another SB in the heat and one of my fastest ever times pretty comfortably and heading into the final I was feeling ready! However, before the race I suffered from cramp in left calf right before the race during warm-up coming off the hurdle. Although a relatively clean race I finished 4th in a final I know I could’ve executed better, without the problems I faced immediately before. I was really disappointed with this result, as not only did it cut my chances of making the Olympics but also the opportunity of running at the European championships which would have been the most ideal opportunity to still make the cut for the Olympics.

After the Olympic trials I soaked up my disappointments and was dedicated to not finishing my season and finding a race to try and keep my dreams for the Rio Olympics alive. At the last minute we managed to find a race in the Gothenburg which, although not being the most competitive race, was a two race opportunity to run on a fast track to try and achieve the qualifier. Unfortunately, after feeling really good arriving in Gothenburg on the day of the competition I began to develop a fever. Still really focused on running the time, I remained determined and decided to race knowing this was my last chance and opportunity for Rio. I ran the first race but to my illness performed well below what I could and feeling physically drained from that one race disappointingly had to pull out of the second race and fly back home. Once again I was really disappointed but still felt my season wasn’t done yet.

Arriving back from Gothenburg disappointed about my major goal for the year not being reached, I still wasn’t settled with my season. I rested up and got back into hard training to prepare for my next competition 2 weeks later at the Loughborough EAP meet. I knew this wouldn’t have any effect on my Rio selection but I was still dedicated to the very end of the season to run fast and hit a time I knew I was capable of. The EAP meet came and to my luck it finally happened and I ran a huge new PB of 13.25 which not only was under the qualifier but also would have been good enough to make the Olympic final. Of course I know running times in a champs with added pressure and expectation is different, especially in one of the most unpredictable events such as the hurdles however, it changed my perspective and belief in my ability which I have struggled with in the past. A bit of a bittersweet moment but I still continued to train and competed all the way through to the end of the season where I was able to run faster again with a new PB of 13.24 and win the Berlin ISTAF meeting, beating some big scalps.

When finishing the season and reflecting on all the ups and downs, without a doubt I was gutted to miss out on Rio but at the same time really happy with the way I have developed as an athlete. Being able to pick myself up and run well towards the end of the season I’m sure this experience will come in handy at some point in the future. This has also only fuelled me up more than ever for the 2017 season, with the World Championships being in London, with possibly a once in a career opportunity to compete at a major home event.

Having sat down with my coach and assessed the season and planning ahead for next year, we believe that with a few technical improvements, I should again be able to run faster and have a goal to try and make the final at the World Championships in London. We also decided that university has been a big factor in the ups and downs of my performances this year so for the coming year I have decided to split my second year of university to really project a lot of my focus on to my athletics and ensure I can achieve what I know I am capable of next summer and yet still be successful in my studies.

Only taking 3 weeks off at the end of the season, I was motivated and excited to start winter training and get back into doing what I love the most. So far this has gone really well. Our group is now joined by Andrew Pozzi UK number 1 in the hurdles and British champion. I have found this a really big boost to training, as he a really talented individual and someone I get on well with, making an ideal training partner. In the coming months, heading into the indoor season and also outdoor season, we hope to push each other harder then ever to hopefully achieve our goals for London next summer.

2016 not only marked the Rio Olympics and preparation for the 2017 World Championships but also the end of my individual place as a Jean Pickering Olympic scholar. Over the last 2 years the support from the fund has been immensely important and a major reason why I have achieved a lot in the last two years, from winning a medal at the world junior championships in 2014, winning the European U23 champs in 2015 and finally, this year, running as well as I have.

The financial support has allowed me not to just cover many of the major expenses athletes incur just to compete, such as travel, training camps, flights to competitions and accommodation but also develop as an athlete, meeting people along the way who have also helped me develop and experience many things I would not have been able to do had I not been part of the scholarship programme.

I personally can’t thank the fund enough for their support over the last 2 year which I am truly and honestly grateful for. It has undoubtedly helped me transcend from a junior to senior athlete.

I think I can speak on behalf of everyone on the scholarship that without the fund a lot of what we have each individually achieved over the last two years would not have been possible. In my own personal experience, despite not making Rio, it has enabled me to set a solid foundation as I prepare for the next 4 year cycle towards Tokyo and into the rest of my carrier.

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