Chichester’s Ollie Smith is the 2016 South of England 400m champion.
The South of England championships took place over two days at Lee Valley in London and the 400m was one of the most competitive events, with 28 chasing the title.
Among them was Smith (Chichester Runners) who was full of confidence having run a personal best time 47.95sec the previous weekend for Harrow in a British Athletics League fixture.
On day one Smith was drawn in lane six for his preliminary heat. Knowing a top-four finish would result in progression to the semi-final, Smith dominated the race from the gun, winning in a time of 48.34sec.
In his semi-final Smith was again drawn in lane six but this time against stronger opposition. With the first four to qualify for the final Smith paced himself to third place in a time of 48.47sec.
Following 24 hours’ recovery Smith settled into his blocks for the final, having been drawn in lane seven. With faster athletes inside him Smith’s race strategy was to attack the first 300m and rely upon his strength and power over the final 100m.
At 300m Smith was two metres ahead of the field, with spectators rising to their feet to witness the ensuing battle down the home straight. With the gap narrowing Smith maintained his technique over the final strides to win gold by 0.12sec in a personal best time of 47.78s.
Smith will next be on the track representing Chichester Runners as part of his build up to the British Championships in Birmingham.
He said: “I’m delighted to have run a personal best at the South of England championships. My aim this year is to post a fast time that will push me up the national rankings.
“I’m hoping that the confidence gained from the weekend, combined with an appropriate training programme, will enable me to get closer to running sub-47 seconds this season.”
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