Abi Oyepitan aims to take Olympic experience in her stride
PUBLISHED: 07:32 19 July 2012
PA Archive/Press Association Images
Harlesden sprinter Abi Oyepitan is determined not to be overawed by the occasion when she steps out to compete at the Olympic stadium.
Oyepitan, who ran in the Olympic 200m final at Athens 2004, feared her chance of repeating that feat had gone after a five-year injury nightmare threatened to end her career.
But the 32-year-old’s dream of becoming an Olympian in her home city is about to be realised after she completed an astonishing comeback by gaining the A qualifying standard at the recent European Championships.
“I’m trying to see it as just another championship,” Oyepitan told the Times. “You can easily become overwhelmed and I don’t know how I’m going to feel until I’m standing out there on the track.
“Of course it’ll be an amazing experience, being London born and bred – I’m going to be one of a few hundred people representing Great Britain in the Olympics, in my home city.
“That’s something that’ll never happen again in my lifetime and it’s pretty special. I thought this would be my last opportunity and I was determined to make the team.
“It’s been very difficult financially as well, without funding from UK Athletics or sponsorship, but my family, my boyfriend and my coach [Tony Lester] have been really supportive and this is going to be special for them as well.”
Oyepitan won a bronze medal in the sprint relay at the 2002 Commonwealth Games and went to Athens two years later, but suffered a stress fracture the following winter and eventually underwent three operations.
She made her comeback in 2009, winning two medals at the Commonwealth Games a year later, and clocked 22.7 seconds – her best time in four years – in Florida last winter.
“I had a really good indoor season and it was a long time since that had happened but, when I ran that time in Florida, I knew I was in good shape,” Oyepitan added.
“Everything’s fallen into place and I’m really pleased with that – I just hope it all pays off. In my mind I know what I’m aiming for at the Olympics but I don’t like to say – I just want to make that final and see what happens.”
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