For 2019 African Games gold medalist Sade Olatoye, being a doctor one day would be a fulfilled dream.
The Ohio State athlete competed in the women’s shot put in Rabat, Morocco and punched her ticket to the world championships with a first place finish. Her first-round attempt of 16.61m was good enough for the gold medal.
The women’s track and field champion also won bronze in the hammer throw, throwing a distance of 16.61m to secure her win. She said she’s excited to represent her fatherland. ”This is my first time of representing Nigeria. As a first timer, it has been pretty amazing meeting everyone. I am excited to represent my country.”
In this chat with Akeem Lawal, the Ohio State Female Athlete of the Year also revealed her love for popular Nigerian delicacy, pounded yam with egusi soup, amongst other issues.
Are you satisfied with your performance in Rabat?
My performance was not too bad. I was close to my personal best. We have issues with the officials mismarking some of my throws. They were marking me shorter than what I threw. But I still came out on top after battling through the obstacles and come out first. So I’m happy to have a gold medal here.
How much does this medal mean to you?
It means the world to me. Being able to come here and place first, qualify for worlds, it’s amazing. It is what I’ve been training for all years.
How will you rate your fellow competitors at the Games?
The competition was not too bad. I only go to competition and focus on myself rather than others. You know you can’t let them distract you. You can’t let any other thing distract you. So I focus on myself and do my best.
You’ve qualified for the World Championship, how are you looking forward to that?
I am super excited. I’ve been trying for all year, being NCWA athlete and coming straight from the NCCA Championship, it has been a motivation boost for me as I come off a long season and continue going forward is something I’m really proud about myself. I give thanks to my family, my coach for supporting me.
How easy was it to make up your mind to represent Nigeria?
I’ve been looking forward to represent Nigeria all my life. Being able to represent on a senior stage has always been my goal. So being able to get in touch with some of the athletes back home and help them motivate me all the way has really benefited me.So it has been a pleasure to represent my country. My parents are from here and being born here as well, it’s been amazing.
How has it been combining education with sport?
Education means the most. Without education you can’t go anywhere in life. So Athletics has always been something on the side that I do as well. Thanks to my parents for the amazing gift they are giving me. I am happy to make them proud.
Apart from athletics what else do you do?
I am a very personal person. I am a Pre-Med track and I want to become a doctor one day. So medical and health care has always been my passion. Being able to connect with the patients is something I really look forward for. I love being able to interact with others.
How often do you visit Nigeria?
I’ve been to Nigeria like eight to nine times. My mum is from Efon Alaye and I go home to visit my grandma. I come to Nigeria often.
Pounded yam is one of the delicacies in Ekiti, do you eat it too?
Of course I do. That is why I am so strong now (laughs). Pounded yam and egusi, that is what I eat.
How has moving abroad helped your career?
Living and training abroad, having the resources in the States (US) is definitely a plus to an athlete. We have more resources. But I think it really depends on how hard you work and the commitment you put in it. I train four hours each and every day. The work you put in it, you will get it back. So if you don’t put more effort in it, you won’t see the results you want to see. So I am proud of myself for working hard. Outside of the classroom, I’m always working hard. My parents raise me that nothing is given, you have to earn it. So you have to earn your place in life.
How do you handle criticism?
Of course, there are always people that play on your downfall but I just try to block that out. You don’t like outside things to affect you on the field. So I just tend to ignore it. If someone says something, you will keep smiling and have a positive attitude.
How supportive were your parents in the sport?
My parents have always emphasised education for me and my siblings. So after finding out that we also have the ability to do athletics, they support everything that we were interested in.
They support me on everything I do as long as I kept my ass in my classes, that was fine.
How do you relax and what kind of music do you enjoy listening to?
I listen to Davido, Burna Boy… yeye yeyeye everything (laughs). So I listen to Afro beats and I have a couple of songs on my playlist that I use to calm down before I compete.
You are one of the pretty athletes we have, how do you avoid advancements from guys?
I’m just focused on what I am worried about. People will always talk to you but you have to have the right intentions. So if I’m focused on and someone is trying to talk to me, I focus on the task ahead; I just say thank you and just continue with what I am doing.
Can you say a sentence in Yoruba?
I can say ‘bawo ni?’ (how is it going?) (laughs).