THERE have been times in the past year-or-so, admits Chris O’Hare, when he’s seriously considered hanging up his spikes.

The 29-year-old 1500m specialist has been a mainstay of the GB team for the past seven years but over the past couple of years, staying at the top of his sport has become increasingly difficult.

In part, that is as a result of the ridiculously huge level of 1500m running within Britain these days, but more so, that challenge has come with juggling his family life with elite sport.

O’Hare and his wife, Meredith, had their first child, Ronan, in October 2016 and he was, admits the Edinburgh native, “a pretty easy baby”.

However, their second son, Riley, who was born in July of last year has, he says, “been sent to test them”.

“Riley has been a completely different ball game to Ronan,” O’Hare said of their second baby.

“He was sent to test us, that’s for sure. He’s been almost impossible.

“He started to sleep quite well but then got an ear infection and a couple of other things and that was it. At times, he was waking up every 30 minutes through the night and then I’d have to go training in the morning.”

Having almost no sleep has not been the only challenge for O’Hare recently, as he has also had to deal with, by his standards, a couple of huge disappointments.

In 2018, O’Hare became British 1500m champion for the second consecutive year, as well as setting a new Scottish record, but in the final of the European Championships in Berlin that summer, he seriously underperformed to finish only ninth.

And last season, he constantly battled with injuries which ultimately saw him miss out on selection for the World Championships in Doha. It was after these disappointments he wondered if the young athletes coming through, including his compatriots Josh Kerr, Jake Wightman and Neil Gourley, had overtaken him. But the fire to prove he still had it, he was pleased to discover, was still there.

“Multiple times I’ve though about chucking it. When things are going well, it’s easy to think yes, I’m ready to race, I’m going to run well. But when things aren’t going particularly well, you do think ‘why am I doing this?’

“After Berlin, and then after not making Doha, I did question internally if it was time to retire.

"Ronan is a big fan of the ‘Cars’ movies and in one of them, the younger car asks the older car, when do you know it’s time to retire. The older one replies well, the young guys will tell you. And that’s so right. So I’m sitting on the couch having a real moment watching 'Cars' and thinking is this it? Is this the young guys telling me to beat it, that I’m done?

“But then I though no it’s not, I’m not that old and I’ll show them for a few years yet.

“I’ve never strayed away from anything in my life because it was hard and so I’m not going to do it now. And it’s certainly not a lesson I want to teach my sons – to walk away when your back is against the wall. So I’m not done yet.”

O’Hare may have learnt his trade in his home city of Edinburgh but for the past decade, he has lived in America - he currently resides in Tulsa - and it is a set-up which has helped him make considerable leaps in his running.

Despite having less than perfect seasons over the past two years, O’Hare has refocused this year, which has not been hard with the Tokyo Olympics now less than six months away.

He made his Olympic debut in 2016 but to make a second Olympic appearance will require an almighty effort.

O’Hare has already opened up his year with a victory at the World Indoor Grand Prix in Boston and his next outing will be at the prestigious NYRR Wanamaker Mile in New York on Saturday, which he won in 2018, where he will be up against the likes of Eric Jenkins, Nick Willis, as well as world championship medalist Filip Ingebrigtsen.

It is the calibre of opposition O’Hare will need if he is to reach the level required to make the GB Olympic team this summer and while the Scot is well aware of just how tough booking his seat on the plane to Tokyo will be, he has every confidence that he can produce the goods this season.

“There’s never a year to have a bad year but because of the Worlds last season being in October, with me missing it, I was able to shut down my season almost a whole month earlier than everyone else. So I was back running and building up again when they were still racing,” he said.

“There’s nothing like missing a team to focus your mind on making the next team.

“Whenever I do have a bad period, I’ve always been able to come back and have my best year yet. So that’s what I’m hoping for this year and with the quality of 1500m running in Britain at the moment, that’s what I need.

"That’s exciting, but only because I know I’m capable of it.”