RHASIDAT Adeleke isn’t going to rush a decision on her future as she weighs up college opportunities in the US and closer to home in the coming months.
The Tallaght sprinter is one of the most sought-after underage runners in world athletics right now after blitzing the field at the European Youth Olympics in Baku, Azerbaijan in July.
Adeleke, who recently turned 17, had only planned to compete in the 200m but wound up taking home gold in both her preferred event and the 100m – a first for an Irish athlete.
She could conceivably have her pick of the world’s premier university athletics programmes but, for the time being, her main focus is her Leaving Cert come May.
Athletics takes a very close second place in her thinking but she tries to split her time and focus as evenly as possible between her academic studies and her track career.
The balance has certainly worked for the Presentation College Terenure student who has taken international gold a remarkable six times since deciding to concentrate on athletics as a 13-year-old.
“It’s probably like 51/49 [in favour of academics],” Adeleke told Dublin Gazette.
“I try to give each an equal chance and equal time. I’m always focused on one or other and I always try to give it my all. It would be a waste of time otherwise.”
2020 began with an unexpected milestone – a personal best time of 7.40 in the indoor 60m in Abbottstown – and she’s determined to take that success to the Olympic Games in Tokyo in June.
The Irish 4x100m relay team is the best the country has ever produced but they’ve yet to qualify for the Games, though there will be ample opportunity in the coming months.
At six foot-plus, Adeleke feels more comfortable at 200m, where she can use her long stride to her advantage, but her prowess over shorter distances has forced her to broaden her scope.
She’s confident the Irish team, who took silver at the world under-20s in 2018, will make the Olympics, whether by posting a good enough time or by featuring in the top 16 rankings.
Her immediate focus is this year’s World Championships – her times at 100 and 200m last year would have been good enough to qualify, but she’ll have to do it again in 2020 to be sure of competing.
If there’s pressure on her shoulders, be it in school or athletics, it doesn’t show as she tries to take the challenges as they come and keep her feet firmly on the ground (at least off the track).
“I try not to get too bogged down or nervous about it, because at the end of the day, this is what your career as an athlete is going to be.
“I want to make more memories like the ones I got last year and the year before, so I just try to get back in the zone and hopefully I can repeat the success this year.”