Chris O'Hare had a good year in 2017, and looks to more success in 2018, by Cathal Dennehy


Chris O'Hare-1.jpgChris O'Hare, British Trials 2017, photo by David Wearn

Long time writer Cathal Dennehy wrote this piece on Chris O'Hare for @runblogrun, as O'Hare reflected on his long and exciting season. Here's a good read on the BAA High Performance team athlete as he heads back to Scotland for a break with his family!

It's hard to remember a time, at least in this writer's memory, when Scottish athletics was gifted with such a rich array of middle-distance talent.

Laura Muir, Lynsey Sharp, Eilish McColgan, Andrew Butchart, Jake Wightman - the list goes on...and on.

And that's before we get to Chris O'Hare, who has spent the last several years living away from his native country, but retains a deep connection to his roots.

These days the 26-year-old from the parish of West Linton calls Boston, Massachusetts, his home, but having drawn the curtain on another successful season - one which included a win at a Diamond League meeting and a world 1500m final - he's heading back to his heartland.

What's more, he'll have a special guest along with him, his 10-month-old baby son Ronan. "He can see all my family and hopefully pick up an accent," says O'Hare with a laugh.

O'Hare's own Scottish accent is noticeably diluted these days, a process that started the first day he arrived to the University of Tulsa in 2009 as a fresh-faced 19-year-old. "Oklahoma is a hard place to have an accent," he admits. "It didn't take me long to lose it."

During his collegiate career, O'Hare marked himself out as a potential star, winning an NCAA indoor mile title in 2012 where he showed off a range of gears that would carry him far in the sport in the years that followed.

In 2013 he reached the 1500m final at the World Championships in Moscow and a year after that, he claimed his first major championship medal, winning 1500m bronze at the European Championships in Zurich. It was Britain's first 1500m medal at the Europeans since Steve Cram and Seb Coe in 1986, and many hoped the young Scot would go on to emulate those greats.

Truth be told, though, O'Hare spent much of that year running with a broken toe, though still managed to finish sixth in the Commonwealth 1500m final. The day after the closing ceremony, he got engaged to his then-girlfriend, Meredith, and the couple have been based in the US ever since.

After signing for adidas, O'Hare moved to Boston to train under renowned coach Terrence Mahon, who he first came into contact with during Mahon's role as lead endurance coach with UK Athletics.

The Rio Olympics didn't go to plan, O'Hare bowing out in the semi-final after being off his best for most of the summer, but this year he bounced back in impressive fashion, lowering his best to 3:33.61 at the Monaco Diamond League in July. Shortly before that he took an impressive win over 1500m at the London Diamond League in 3:34.75, the perfect preparation for the World Championships in August.

Though O'Hare made the final as an automatic qualifier, when he got there he had nothing left to offer, the Scot coming home 12th and last in 3:38.28.

"That's life," he says. "That's the sport. If you want to medal you've got to be 100 percent on the day and unfortunately I wasn't. It was a great year though."

After London O'Hare went to Birmingham, where he finished second to compatriot Jake Wightman over a mile in 3:55.01. Two weeks later he was back in the US, sprinting to victory in a downpour at the Long Island Mile in Huntington, clocking 3:56.22 to hold off two-time Olympic medallist Nick Willis.

At the line O'Hare threw his arms in the air, his fingers pointed to the sky, a gesture for the late David Torrence, his friend and rival who had passed away the previous week.

"David was a great friend and will always be remembered in our sport as someone who gave it his all," says O'Hare. "That's what we've all been trying to do the last couple of weeks, to remember him like that."

Last weekend O'Hare closed his season at the Fifth Avenue Mile, where he found only the wily veteran Nick Willis too fast on the run to the line, O'Hare coming home second in 3:52.0.

"It's not the first time I've finished second to Nick and I'm sure it won't be the last," says O'Hare, who will now take his end-of-season break and get in some family time on his visit to Scotland.

Since becoming a father late last year, he has managed to put running in proper perspective, something which has boosted his performances to a new level.

"It's tough [being a father], but it's good fun and Ronan is a blast which makes it all the better," he says. "Having this guy makes it easy to say: I'm just going to take the day off and rest if I'm sore or feel like I'm going to pick up an injury."

Looking ahead to 2018, two main competitions stand out in the early part of the year: the IAAF World Indoor Championships in Birmingham in March and the Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast in April. O'Hare looks capable of reaching the podium at both.

"The goal next year is much more of the same: happy, consistent training," says O'Hare, "I'll see where that takes me."

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