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By Chris Byfield
Olympic legend Christine Ohuruogu laid bare her immense “pride” after her mentee Matthew Hudson-Smith overcame a suicide attempt to claim a World Championship medal last month.
In July, Hudson-Smith won a 400m bronze medal at the World Championships in Eugene, Oregon having overcome a three-year mental health battle during which he attempted suicide.
The 27-year-old clocked 44.66 seconds to make the podium, finishing behind US winner Michael Norman and silver medallist Kirani James of Grenada.
Hudson-Smith has since cited teammates Dina Asher-Smith and Nethaneel Mitchell-Blake as sources of support, and namechecked athletics legend Ohuruogu for her mentorship.
The collaboration between Hudson-Smith and Ohuruogu has produced a first individual global medal for the Black Country star, who is now entering the Commonwealth Games among the favourites to claim gold.
Ohuruogu said: “[My emotions] are a bit mixed. I think first I’m proud of him - that he was able to overcome what he’d been through and was able to convert that into something that was so overwhelmingly good.
“I think that is primarily where a lot of my pride came from - I just knew it meant so much to him.”
In 2018 Hudson-Smith claimed the European 400m title and a 400m relay silver medal.
Yet the following three years saw the athlete’s hopes on the track wrecked by a string of Achilles, hamstring and hip injuries, that culminated in a suicide attempt in 2021.
Ohuruogu continued: “You only see a small part of the journey. It is very hard to articulate what that success means to someone who hasn’t been on that journey.
“I know where he has come from, I get why he was crying [upon winning World Championship bronze] - I get it. The emotional dam had burst when he got that medal.
“It is something that we’d been talking about for a while, he knows he’s in good shape and I think it’s a real testament to him and his character.
“I was also relieved - I’m not going to lie - I was like, ‘phew’! He said to me he could do it and he did it.”
For Hudson-Smith, who was born in Wolverhampton, attention now turns to the Commonwealth Games where he will be keen to delight the crowd on his home track.
In 2018 he false started in his heat, but this time around he will be the one to beat having performed the best in Eugene of the Commonwealth athletes competing at the Games.
World silver medallist and former Olympic champion Kirani James is not competing in Birmingham while Olympic champion Steven Gardiner missed Eugene through injury.
Ohuruogu has stressed that Hudson-Smith must maintain focus after the World Championships considering the depleted 400m field at the Commonwealths.
The former Olympic, World and Commonwealth champion said: “I see him now and say I’m super proud of you but at the same time I’m like, ‘work has not finished yet’.
“I have to say, ‘you have got to keep going Mathew - we can’t stop and celebrate too much.’
“As much as he wants to with his family and his coach, we have still got work to do.
“I said to Mathew, ‘I am going to reign you back in now and get back to work. Let us put the metaphorical champagne glasses down and let’s get back on it.’
“I am super proud. I think he has done amazingly well and he’s in such good spirits going into these Commonwealth Games.”
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