400m ace Smith heads indoors to broaden horizons

Chichester Runners' 400m specialist Ollie Smith took part in the British University and Colleges Indoor Athletics Championships and the British Indoor Athletics Championships, both at Sheffield.

Ollie Smith ready to go at the universities championships
Ollie Smith ready to go at the universities championships

Working with new coach Laura Turner-Alleyne, Smith decided to run indoors for the first time. The technical and tactical differences for the 400m runner indoors (200m track, six lanes) compared to outdoors (400m, eight lanes) are significant.

At the universities event, Smith won his heat, enabling him to progress to one of five 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 48.32sec. This would have won two of the other semi-final heats but Smith missed out on a final place by 0.2sec.

At the British championships the first three athletes from each of the three heats, plus three fastest losers, qualified for the semi-finals. Smith was drawn in his opening heat against five-times British indoor champion Nigel Levine. After 300m Smith was fourth.

Using experience from the previous weekend he produced a powerful surge over the final 50m, finishing third and gaining automatic qualification.

There were two semi-finals with the first two and two fastest losers qualifying for the final. Smith was in the first heat and was third entering the final 50m.

Despite a surge over the final 50m, Smith just missed out on automatic qualification, finishing third.

Officials had to consult a photograph to decide final placings but Smith missed out by an incredible 0.1sec.

The experience of running indoors and chance to evaluate his fitness ahead of the outdoor season has been invaluable.

Smith said: “It has been a steep learning curve running indoors for the first time.

“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 three months will result in me lowering my personal best time of 47.96sec.”

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