David Omoregie could have spiralled into despair after his father and sister died within weeks of each other in 2011. But instead he used the double tragedy to spur his athletics career and will draw on the loss again at the London world championships.
The 21-year-old, one of Great Britain’s brightest young stars, is making his senior debut in the 110m hurdles, an event he points out is famously unpredictable. The aim is to come away with a medal and his mum and three of his siblings will be in the stadium to watch, but when he settles into the blocks his mind will focus on absent family members.
“Given what happened to my dad and sister it was a very difficult time for me,” he says. “Even my athletics wasn’t going well at the time. It just seemed that everything was going wrong. But from that moment on it has given me so much drive and motivation to achieve what I want to do in the sport and I have started to be successful. Even now that is my core value and motivation, just to make them proud.”
Omoregie was studying for his GCSEs in April 2011 when sister Esohe, a junior doctor, was killed in a head-on collision with a drunk driver while travelling home from a late shift at a hospital in Kent. His family got the call the following morning at home in Haverfordwest. His dad, George, also a doctor, had been suffering with terminal cancer since 2008 but the devastating news seemed to send him into a decline and he died one month later. But George’s work ethic is what Omoregie credits with helping him hold the family together in the most testing times. He even left school with five A*s and six As in his GCSEs.
“My dad came to Haverfordwest in 2006 to work at the hospital nearby and we followed him a year later,” says Omoregie, “but eventually he had to stop working because he was so sick. What my dad put into me was the core values. He was a very hard working person. He tried to do everything the best. He put us into good schools and did…