‘When the wind comes sweeping down the plain…when the wind comes right behind the rain.’
Not a Scottish weather report, but the lyrics to the famous song Oklahoma. And for Scottish middle distance runner Chris O’Hare, Oklahoma is now a home-from-home.
The 23-year-old from West Linton in the Scottish Borders spent four and a half years at the University of Tulsa, graduating in sports science and kinesiology.
And, following a brief return to Scotland, O’Hare plans to head back to his adopted home as he builds towards competing for Team Scotland at the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games.
It wasn’t, however, any meteorological matters which convinced O’Hare to settle in Tulsa.
“At that point I didn’t know if I was going to be able to run professionally,” explained O’Hare. “It was important for me to get a good education so Tulsa was the best fit academically and athletically. The coach was saying all the right things and he was right, I loved it.
“I didn’t have any time to go and visit before choosing Tulsa, what with a pretty intense race schedule and school schedule. It was still a very informed decision and I spoke to some of the British guys already out there who vouched for the university, the coach, the training environment.
“I don’t think I would have been as successful up to this point if I hadn’t gone to the States, taken that leap of faith and gone for it. It really worked for me and drove me forward. Having the track and the weight room and everything only two minutes’ walk away is a perfect training environment. You have the medical support right at your fingertips. When you’re hurt you’re out for two or three days instead of two or three months.”
O’Hare returned to Scottish soil in January for the British Athletics International Match at the Emirates Arena in Glasgow, his season opening 1,500m delivering a win by 0.03 seconds from Kenyan James Magut.
Next up is the World Indoor Championships in Sopot, Poland from 7-9 March where the former City of Edinburgh runner hopes to build on his form from 2013, his most successful year yet.
Putting aside the disappointment of narrowly missing out on qualification for the London 2012 Olympics, O’Hare set the Scottish record for the fastest indoor mile – 3 minutes 52.98 seconds – at the Millrose Games in New York.
Not even a mid-season hamstring injury could damage his confidence as O’Hare made the most of the Oklahoma medics to return ahead of schedule and qualify for the World Championships.
O’Hare said: “Moscow was the icing on the cake for a great year. Being so close to making the team for London, it drove me on to show what I’m capable of. If a couple of things had gone right in 2012, I might have been there, but a couple of things went wrong and that’s all it takes.
“It drove me on to a successful 2013 and after making it to the World Championships I knew I had a good chance of being picked for the Commonwealth Games.”
O’Hare was right, his Team Scotland selection confirmed 300 days ahead of the Games commencing and the proud Scot can’t wait to meet up with his team-mates, recalling memories of competing at the 2008 Commonwealth Youth Games in Pune, India.
“Part of my excitement for Glasgow is knowing what the Commonwealth Games feels like and remembering the team environment from being in India,” added O’Hare. “India was great, with all the different sports coming together as one team. We became close-knit, almost like a family.
“I’m looking forward to that team environment and racing in Scotland in front of the Scottish crowds will be fantastic. The event at the Emirates gave us some indication of how Scottish fans will be like; the crowd really got behind us and it was like nothing I had ever witnessed before.”
O’Hare is one of four Team Scotland athletes named in the Great Britain and Northern Ireland team for the World Indoor Championships, joined by Eilidh Child (400m relay), Eilish McColgan (3000m) and Laura Muir (800m).
You can follow Chris on Twitter @chrisohare1500
Photo Credit: scottishathletics via Britishathletics