Wigan-based Marilyn Okoro hopes this year can be the perfect launchpad towards the next Olympics.
And she has revealed her ambitions for the upcoming campaign – shine at the team trails and run the qualifying time for the 800m.
The Tokyo Games is more than 19 months away and Okoro wants to use this year to thrust herself back into the big-time.
She said: “For 2019, I just think I need to be ready for trials and I need to run the qualifying time.
“I want to take selection out of the selectors’ hands as much as possible.”
Okoro relocated from London to Wigan to work with coach Trevor Painter after a chance meeting with his wife, Wigan’s Jenny Meadows – one of Okoro’s biggest rivals not long ago – in London in the summer. At the time, Okoro had returned from five years in America and had taken a break from athletics to overcome long-standing injuries which plagued her over the last few years.
Rewind a few years, Okoro was part of the women’s 4x400m relay team who were promoted from fifth to bronze at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing after the second and fourth place teams were disqualified for doping violations.
Last July, Okoro got to wear her Olympic medal for the first time after being presented with her bronze gong – nearly 10 years on.
Alongside five global relay medals, including world bronze in 2007, Okoro has also had individual success in her favoured event of the 800m; winning bronze at the European Indoor Championships in 2011 and the IAAF World Athletics Final in 2007 and 2008 – the year she clocked an 800m best of 1:58.45, which puts her sixth on the UK all-time list. But her career has been plagued with setbacks and injuries and after missing out on the Olympic Games in 2012, Okoro moved to Florida before returning from her “American nightmare” last year.
Related: Okoro relocates to Wigan
She says she has been “shocked” by the strides she has taken since moving to Wigan.
“I thought it would be a good move, but I didn’t think I’d be as far along as I am,” she said, as she looks ahead to the indoor season.
“I look back and I know I did a lot less to achieve some phenomenal times, so I’m excited about what I can achieve with the script this time.
“I’ve got unfinished business in the 800m,” she said.
Okoro headed to Dubai before Christmas as she stepped up her preparations. And she is confident she is good enough to make the Team GB.
“I wouldn’t put myself through this if I didn’t,” she added.