Enoch Olaoluwa Adegoke was one of Nigeria’s shining lights at the last Summer Olympics-Tokyo 2020, even though he did not make it to the podium in the 100m event.
He broke a 25-year jinx to make it to the final of the men’s 100m event where he copped an injury, which derailed his ambition of finishing among the three medalists.
Back in Nigeria and recuperating from the injury that curtailed his involvement in Tokyo, Adegoke, in this exclusive interview, takes PREMIUM TIMES through his journey from the Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU) Campus through to his breakthrough outing in Tokyo.
He is well-known for his ‘running by revelation’ line through which he has set his eyes on attaining multiple records in the years ahead. The 21-year-old believes in hard work and, with God on his side, he can attain his goals.
Enjoy excerpts of the interview with Nigeria’s newest sprint sensation…
PT: Can you tell us a bit about yourself; especially who Enoch Adegoke is outside Track and Field
Adegoke: Nothing really much to say about myself. You already know I am Enoch Adegoke and I specialise in the 100 and 200m events. I think that’s just it.
PT: Give us some insights into how you started athletics, did you try out in other sports before settling for athletics or it was athletics from scratch?
Adegoke: It has been athletics right from the beginning for me. From my primary and secondary school days, I have been taking part in inter-house sports and while I was in secondary school; I had told myself that I would make sure I join the school team of any institution I am admitted to for my tertiary education. When I gained admission, I had a friend that was part of the school (OAU) team-his name was Kunle Aderetan; I asked him how to go about joining the school team and he showed me. I went for the trials and they selected me. That was the beginning.
PT: Do you have any of your siblings in sports and how did your parents take your decision to go into sports
Adegoke: None of my siblings is into sports and my parents were very supportive once I told them this is what I want to do
PT: Can you tell us about the ‘OAU connection’, what are you studying in OAU, has the school been supportive and are you looking forward to practising what you are studying?
Adegoke: One thing I would say about OAU (Obafemi Awolowo University) is that they provided a platform for me to showcase my talent. We had the facilities and meeting my coach (Ayokunle Odelusi) was one of the best things that ever happened to me. I studied Geography, I cannot say if I will practise it in future for now
PT: How does it really feel to become an Olympian when you look at the number of athletes that crave this but don’t achieve it
Adegoke: It feels really great to become an Olympian; I am very excited about it. Just carrying that title alone is worth all the sweat and I am very grateful to God for it. I am very grateful I could achieve the feat despite the challenges.
PT: So, how difficult was it for you to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics- what were the challenges and how did you conquer them?
Adegoke: Before qualifying for the Olympics, I also had a lot of challenges, but there was enough support from my coach, family and friends. I remember the days of tedious training trying to get things right, but you had to be patient.
There were days you will be confident you have done enough before a race and would get the qualifying mark, but you will narrowly miss out or you will be way off the mark. These were some challenges before eventually qualifying for the Olympics.
PT: What target did you set for yourself in Tokyo; and did you meet, surpass or fail to meet those targets?
Adegoke: I met most of the targets I set for myself. First, I wanted to run nine seconds, then I wanted to be in the final, then I wanted to improve on my time of 9.98s and possibly get a medal but I got injured, so it was almost 100% success rate for me.
PT: You became the first Nigerian male sprinter to qualify for the 100m final in 25 years, but in that final, you copped a hamstring. With the way you were going, do you think you would have won a medal?
Adegoke: Anything could have happened in that final, but I can’t boast of what I am uncertain about. But sincerely, it was pretty still open until that moment when I pulled a hamstring; I thank God for everything, nonetheless.
PT: What difference did you see between Nigerian athletes and your competitors in Tokyo?
Adegoke: We are all athletes. I won’t want to talk about the difference between my competitors here in Nigeria and those in Tokyo. The intensity there was more.
PT: Though you represented Edo State at Sports Festival, what part of the country are you from
Adegoke: I am from Oyo State, Oke-Ogun Area
PT: Who are the role models you are looking up to
Adegoke: I have always loved Yohan Blake right from time and Trayvon Bromell, then another person I look up to is my coach (Ayokunle Odelusi). He knows very much about the sport and he inspires me a great deal.
PT: The Commonwealth Games, World Championship and African Championship are all around the corner. What are your plans?
Adegoke: Keep training and keep trusting in God
PT: What is the ultimate goal you want to achieve before calling it a day?
Adegoke: I want to break multiple records and achieve feats that have never been achieved in athletics
PT: Thank you for your time
Adegoke: It was a pleasure