ATHLETICS: ‘I don’t let any new experiences or pressure get to me’ – Adeleke

by Jonny Stapleton
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By Jonny Stapleton

There has been more than just a change in status for new pro Rhasidat Adeleke.

The Dublin sprinter has seen a massive alteration in her profile, her standing within the sport and even her confidence levels over the last year.

The Tallaght talent confirmed last week that she was forgoing her final year of eligibility in the NCAA in favour of going professional.

The record-breaking sprinter made a solid start to her pro career with a second-place finish behind world champion Shericka Jackson over 200m in Hungary, before finishing fourth over 400m at the Monaco Diamond League.

The 20-year-old has since returned to Ireland and will compete in the 200m at the National Championships on Saturday, her final race before next month’s World Championships in Budapest.

21 July 2023; The stars of Irish athletics return to national competition at the National Senior Track and Field Championships which take place at Morton Stadium on July 29th and 30th 2023. Spectator tickets and further information can be found at Eric Favors during a portrait session at Morton Stadium in Dublin. Photo by Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile

It feels like a transformative few weeks for the sprinter who has starred in the NCAA for the University of Texas and she points out the extent of changes became most obvious when she landed home.

“It’s just weird now, being in the airport on the way here and so many people were asking for pictures and I was like, ‘Oh my God, I feel like I’m famous’ or something,” she said.

“But it’s really good, it’s been really nice getting away from the typical routine of being in Texas.

“I’m just looking forward to seeing everyone I haven’t seen in so long, and competing on home turf again.

“Honestly, I just stay the same as I’ve always been, I don’t let any of the new experiences or pressure get to me.

“I just want to be the same person I’ve been throughout the years.”

It’s not Irish sport fans who have begun to notice the national indoor and outdoor 200m and 400m record holder’s achievements. Her peers seem to have taken note and recognise a genuine medal threat.

Adeleke certainly recognised those she raced against of late, having watched them growing up.

However, she is no longer star-struck when it comes to the TV stars and feels ready to compete against them.

“A lot of people came up to me and said, ‘Oh, I saw you in the NCs, good job’.

“A lot of them were people I used to watch on TV growing up and now they’re recognising me and saying ‘good job’ and good luck’ and stuff so yeah, it’s pretty cool.

“Now when I go to a big meet with a lot of professionals I feel myself I’m on their level now, like we’re kind of on the same page, whereas before like at the Worlds last year, I felt below them, that I should pay them respect.

“But now it’s not the same. I still definitely pay them respect but I feel like we’re on more of an equal playing field.”

Adeleke also pointed out that her move into pro athletics was inspired by a desire to give herself the best possible chance of performing at the Paris 2024 Olympics.

Adeleke said: “There was an option to take an NIL deal, stay in college and still run for Texas but I feel like, because the Olympics is next year, it’d be best if I was on my own schedule, and didn’t have to do all the collegiate competitions.

“It’s just about what’s best for my athletic career.”

The stars of Irish athletics return to national competition at the National Senior Track and Field Championships which take place at Morton Stadium on July 29 and 30. Rhasidat Adeleke during a portrait session at Morton Stadium in Dublin (main) and (inset) shot putter Eric Favors. Photos: Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile

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