INTERVIEW: What winning African Games gold medal means to me – Oyesade Olatoye

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One of Nigeria’s top performers at the last African Games in Morocco was Oyesade Olatoye. Olatoye won two medals, a gold in the Shot Put and bronze in the Hammer throw to help Nigeria finish top in the Track and Field events.

Though based in the United States, Olatoye hails from Ekiti State.

In this interview with PREMIUM TIMES, Olatoye shares her dream of becoming a medical practitioner someday while also making her mark in sports.

Excerpts.

PT: Congratulations on your feat in Morocco. Was that your first time of representing Nigeria or you’ve been doing so before now?

Olatoye: This is my first-time representing Nigeria and as the first time it’s really amazing to meet everyone. I’m excited to represent my home country.

PT: How would you rate your performance in Morocco?

Olatoye: My performance wasn’t too bad; I was supposed to put out my personal best. We had some issues with the officials mismarking some of my throws, they were marking me shorter than how far I was throwing but I still came on top. I was able to battle through the obstacles and finished in the first position, I’m happy I have a gold medal here.

PT: How much is this gold medal worth to you?

Olatoye: It means the world to me, being able to come here and place first has helped secure automatic qualification for the IAAF world championships. It’s been amazing, this is what I have been training all year for. So I’m excited I’m able to place first here in Morocco.

PT: How easy was it for you to make the decision to represent Nigeria and how long ago did you make the decision?

Olatoye: I have been looking forward to representing Nigeria, kind of all my life, being able to represent on the senior stage has always been my goal.

So being able to get in touch with some of the athletes back home and have them motivate me to throw for the team has really been a dream come true.

It has always been a goal of mine to represent Nigeria, especially being my home country and my parents born here. So it’s been amazing.

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PT: Can you say you are a combination of both the book and sport?

Olatoye: Of course! I’m a student-athlete and still at Ohio State University. So, education means the most, without your education, you can’t go anywhere in life. Athletics has always been a thing on the side that I’ve been good at as well. So, it’s for my parents, for the amazing genes they have given me on my path.

Olatoye Olatoye

PT: Aside from athletics, what other thing do you engage in? Modelling? Acting? Music?

Olatoye: I’m a very passionate person. I’m actually on the pre-med track, I want to be a doctor one day. Medical and healthcare have always been my passion, being able to connect with the patient is something I’ve really looked forward to. I’m just a person that is able to interact with others, that’s kind of my personality.

PT: How often do you come home?

Olatoye: I’ve actually been to Nigeria around eight to nine times. My mom is from Efon Alaye, so I go home to visit my grandma any time I come home to Nigeria.

PT: Ekiti is known for pounded yam, do you take pounded yam?

Olatoye: Of course, every day! That’s why I’m so strong.

PT: How will you rate your fellow African competitors?

Olatoye: The competition wasn’t too bad, I entered the competition just to focus on myself rather than others. You can’t let them distract you, you can’t let anything else distract you. And so, I just focus on myself and hope for the best.

PT: This is the first of many things… How are you looking forward to the World Championships?

Olatoye: I’m super excited. I’ve been training for all year. You know I’ve been NCWA athlete and coming straight to senior championships. It’s just been a great motivation for me. As I’ve come out of one season, to continue with tons of others is just one thing I really admire about myself. And I give thanks to my family and my coach for always supporting me.

PT: Do you think moving abroad really helped your career?

Olatoye: Living abroad, having the resource that we have in the States is actually a plus to being an athlete. With having some more resources, I think it really depends on how hard you work. You know, the effort you decide to put in it, you have to practice for hours each and every day. It’s the work you put in that you get to get back. So, if you don’t put the work in, you won’t receive the results you want to see. I really pride myself for working hard, in and outside of the classroom, I’m always working hard. My parents raised me like that, nothing is given, and you have to earn it. You definitely have to earn where you get placed in life.

PT: From the onset, did your parents buy into you doing sports?

Olatoye: My parents have always really emphasized education for me and my siblings. But when they saw our potentials in sports, they’ve always supported anything we are interested in also.

Oyesade Olatoye Oyesade Olatoye

I was always a basketball player, and I did basketball and track and field. They have supported me, anything I do, as long as I get my ‘As’ in my classes, I was fine.

PT: How do you relax? What kind of music do you like, food and others?

Olatoye: Well, I listen to my Afro beats, I listen to Davido, Burna Boy and everything. I have a couple of songs on my playlist that I use to calm me down before I compete. So, I just get in a zone, relax and I’m ready to go.

PT: What is your best food?

Olatoye: Yes, pounded yam and Egusi.

PT: How do you manage pressure from guys?

Olatoye: I just focus on what I’m worried about. People always talk to you, you have to have the right intentions. If I’m focused on touring today and someone tries to talk to me, I will focus on the task ahead, I’ll say thank you and forge ahead.

PT: Can you say a sentence in Yoruba?

Olatoye: I can say ‘bawo ni (how is it going). (laughs).

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