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'We must not accept the Africans are better than us,' says Chris O'Hare

The Road to Rio, Chris O'Hare confirms, begins in Zurich.

Chris O'Hare has learned to relax in the early stages of big 1500m races
Chris O'Hare has learned to relax in the early stages of big 1500m races

And for the UK's cluster of middle-distance hopefuls, there will be no artificial ceiling for ambitions that start with the European Championships.

The 23-year-old from Edinburgh, who opens his continental challenge in this morning's 1500 metres heats, is now two generations removed from a halcyon era during which the triumvirate of Seb Coe, Steve Ovett and Steve Cram conquered the world with a depth in reserve that could ably fill any void.

In between, the lustre was lost. "Over the last 10, 15 years, British running has accepted the Africans are better than us," O'Hare said. "That mentality needs to change."

With his own goals limitless, and with both the UK champion Charlie Grice and the European junior victor Jake Wightman jostling for supremacy, a new golden age may be on the horizon, he says.

"This time next year in Beijing, it will be the first world championships where we're ready to have three ­British runners in the final. That will be our big step forward as a team to beat them. Rio might still be a little early but hopefully that will be the start of it all."

First things first, a little closer to home. Sixth at the Commonwealth Games, and with a promising campaign jolted by a hamstring ­problem, expectations that Switzerland would be O'Hare's coming out party have been tempered. Yet Glasgow proved that a heavy schedule is not the only means to get ready. It also provided him with further instruction in the art of progressing through the rounds, using tactics to conserve energy.

"The biggest thing I learnt was to stay relaxed for the first two laps," he confirmed. "The race isn't won then. People were saying, you were getting boxed in the first couple of laps. That only matters if you can't get out. I never really stress about being on the inside. I need to chill out in that situation and not worry about the pressure."

Even with such insights, the ­Europeans will be tough with the likes of the Ethiopian-born German Homiyu Tesfaye and Turkey's Itham Ozbilen running into form.

O'Hare, who lowered his personal best at last month's Diamond League meeting at Hampden, knows he needs incremental gains to consistently challenge, a prime reason why he has eschewed a return to Scotland, or a potential switch to Loughborough, in favour of basing himself close to new coach Terrance Mahon and his training hub in Boston.

"In April, when I signed with adidas, I knew I'd end up based in Boston after this season," he revealed. "This was always going to be the last summer I came back and trained around West Linton. So I wanted to enjoy that time with my family, especially with my little brother and sister, and supporting them in what they want to achieve by being around. I don't expect to be at home again."

Meanwhile, the Commonwealth Games bronze medallist Mark Dry has confirmed he will defend his hammer title at this weekend's Scottish Championships in Kilmarnock.

"I've won the title the last couple of years but I am sure Andy Frost and Chris Bennett, my team-mates at Hampden, will be busting a gut to beat me," he said. "It will be very different from throwing in front of 40,000 at Hampden and everyone screaming their heads off for us."

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