QE sprinter leading the way

Sixth-Former John Otugade is being tipped as one of Britain’s hot prospects for the future, following his decision to drop football and focus on athletics. John was scouted by several London clubs and signed for Watford, but he continued to run for Shaftesbury Barnet Harriers, where his talent was recognised and he was persuaded his future lay in athletics.

“I’d been playing football since I was five and had represented Barnet Youth a year above my age group” said John. “It was quite a difficult decision, but definitely the right one, as in 2011 I had a very good athletics season.” In fact, John ended the 2011 season as the number one-ranked 100-metre U17 runner in Britain, with a season’s best of 10.87s at the England Athletics U17 Championships.

John puts his success down both to his decision to focus solely on athletics and to the coaching he receives from Tom McNab. Tom is renowned as a top British coach who developed a number of British Olympic training programmes – including the decathlon programme which produced gold-medallist Daley Thompson. He was also the Technical Director for the film Chariots of Fire.

“We do a lot of technical work in our drills and I’ve got great training partners. Tom’s got so many years of experience and he has a terrific ability to motivate,” said John.

This season, aged just 17, John has had to face the difficult transition to senior racing as he moved into the U20 age group. Despite competing against athletes as much as three years older than him, John achieved third place in the 100m at the Aviva England Athletics U20/U23 Championships and World Trials with a time of 10.85s – only slightly slower than his 2012 season and personal best of 10.77s.

Notwithstanding such performances, John himself has not seen this season as significant. “It’s been a transitional period into senior competition. My aim is to make a real mark in 2013 as a second-year U20 runner. The European Championships is my target; I think I’ll have sufficient experience then to have an impact.”

John very much enjoyed this summer’s Olympics and particularly the blue riband event, the 100m. “I admire all the sprinters and of course Usain Bolt but my favourite is Tyson Gay. I admire his conduct on the track and his work ethic.”

Athletics Weekly magazine, which recently featured John in its Young Athlete profile, predicts that he could very well make it to a future Olympics as a competitor.