CHRIS O’Hare has endured such misfortune in major championships that it seems almost like a provocation that he should take his first steps at this Gold Coast Commonwealth Games on Friday 13th. The 27-year-old middle distance runner’s abilities are greater than the two European 1500m bronze medals, indoor and outdoor, he has to show for them but at Team Scotland’s athletics base at the University of the Sunshine Coast yesterday, he declared himself ready to push him through the pain barrier in the next fortnight, after getting on his bike to battle the foot problem which stymied his best efforts at the World Indoor Championships in Birmingham in March.
“How is the injury?” said O’Hare, who was joined here yesterday by coach Terrence Mahon. “It’s good enough. We’re operating one to three out of ten on the pain scale. That’s fine. As long as it doesn’t creep above a three we can deal with that.
“There’s nothing structurally wrong,” he added. “It’s just inflamed which gives you the pain. It needs four or five weeks of no running and that’s not going to happen. But I bought a roadbike when I got back from the world indoors to substitute my second runs with the bike.
“It’s about adapting,” he added. “Tulsa has fantastic bike trails. There are hundreds of miles worth in the Tulsa area. So there are plenty of places to bike without being hit by a motorbike. Maybe I should do the road race … but I probably could only keep up for about 500 metres!”
The task facing O’Hare next week doesn’t get any easier any time soon. While 12 of the 18 entrants will reach the final – including hopefully both he and team-mate Jake Wightman – Kenya’s team for the glamour event of the 1,500m includes both Elijah Montonei and Timothy Cheriyot, the one-two from the World Championships in London, “plus a random who is probably a 3.30 guy!”
O’Hare left Scotland in 2009 for an athletics scholarship in Tulsa and never came home, marrying his wife Meredith out there, fathering an 18-month son called Ronan and recently buying a home in the area. As so often happens, living in Oklahoma has only made this product of West Linton more fiercely Scottish. “I’m sponsored by adidas which is great, so Ronan has all the Scotland football strips,” says O’Hare. “But I’m a Celtic fan too and because we don’t sponsor them Mark Coogan, the coach at New Balance in Boston got him a Celtic strip – but it’s an XL with Moussa Dembele’s signature on it. And I have a few retro Celtic strips for him without any sponsors. He’s 16 months old so he’s not quite old enough to understand it but we’ll get him indoctrinated and biased soon enough!”
As disappointing as it was to lose one member of the training group, Andy Butchart, to a broken foot, what better example than Lynsey Sharp in 2014 for how to put adversity to the background to win a Commonwealth medal. “Lynsey and I are close, we’ve known each other since were 11 or 12,” he said. “Andy’s injury hit us hard because we’re a close knit group, you’re in the trenches with each other in training and its tough when one of you can’t achieve what we know he can. Because he was on a different level. He was going to win. Lynsey’s an animal though, and it’s easy to be around folk who are like-minded. It’s good to talk things through with people you know aren’t weak minded.”