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Encouraging signs for Smith from Indoor Championships

It’s been a busy couple of weeks for Chichester Runners 400m athlete Ollie Smith who took part in the British University and Colleges Indoor Athletics Championships (19-21 February) and the British Indoor Athletics Championships (27-28 February). Both events held at the English Institute of Sport in Sheffield. 

 
Working with a new coach (Laura Turner-Alleyne) Smith decided to run indoors for the first time. The technical and tactical differences for the 400m runner competing indoors (200m track, 6 lanes) compared to outdoors (400m, 8 lanes) are significant. A critical point being track positioning after the athletes have broken out of their lanes at 150m. For the 400m runner negotiating tight bends, surrounded by competitors, is exciting and unpredictable. At the Universities and Colleges Championships Smith won his heat, enabling him to progress to 1 of 5 semi-finals, where the winner from each heat (plus the overall fastest loser) qualified for the final. Smith finished second in his heat to the eventual Gold medallist clocking 48.32s. This time would have won two of the other semi-final heats but Smith missed out on a final place by 0.2s.

At the British Indoor Championships the first 3 athletes from each of the 3 heats, plus 3 fastest losers, qualified for the semi-finals. Smith was drawn in his opening heat against 5 times British Indoor Champion, Nigel Levine. After 300m Smith found himself in 4th place. Using experience gained from the previous weekend Smith produced a powerful surge over the final 50m, finishing 3rd and gaining automatic qualification. There were 2 semi-finals with the first 2 and 2 fastest losers qualifying for the final. Smith was in the first heat and found himself in 3rd position entering the final 50m. Despite a characteristic surge over the final 50m Smith just missed out on automatic qualification position, finishing 3rd. It was then a question of waiting to see if he could hold on to one of the fastest loser times in order to make the final. Following a bunch finish to the second semi-final there was a delay to announcing the finishing times as the officials had to consult a photograph. Unfortunately for Smith he missed out by an incredible 0.1s, finishing in 7th place.

Although somewhat disappointed to have missed out on by both finals by such small margins the experience of running indoors and evaluating his current level of fitness ahead of the outdoor season has been invaluable.
 
Smith said: ‘It has been a steep learning curve running indoors for the first time. Having to accommodate the steep gradients of the 200m track when drawn in lane 6, compared to negotiating the tight bends of lane 1, was a challenge. It was a little disappointing not to make either final, as my recovery between races was really pleasing, but that’s athletics. The bigger picture is for me to build upon these experiences. I am in good shape for this time of the year and confident that quality training over the next 3 months will result in me lowering my personal best time of 47.96s. Back to the hard work!’

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