Tallaght sprint queen Adeleke putting her best foot forward

by Dave Donnelly

When Ireland’s 4x100m relay team won a historic first-ever World Championships medal at the Under-20 championships in Finland last month, one name was sadly missing from the line-up.

After helping the Irish team breeze through their heats, Tallaght’s Rhasidat Adeleke was forced to pull out of the final with injury and missed the silver medal-winning race.

That it was just a blip on an otherwise steady upward curve for the 16-year-old shows just how momentous the past 13 months have been for the youngster.

July saw her claim silver in the 200m at the European Youth Olympic Festival in Turkey, and she claimed gold in the European Championships in Hungary a year later.

“I feel like I’ve dedicated myself more to athletics,” Adeleke told the Dublin Gazette at the launch of Dublin City Council’s Dublin Sportsfest at Irishtown Stadium.

“I used to just go to training for fun and mess around. By the end of the 2016, I really wanted to improve, so I worked a bit harder and I think that’s what’s done it.”

Adeleke, who is in fifth year at Presentation College Terenure, is trained by Johnny Fox at Tallaght Athletics Club.

That she ended up at Tallaght AC is down to her primary school teacher, who recognised her talent and encouraged her to head up to the local club to get involved.

“I was in primary school and my PE teacher recommended me to join the club. She thought I was really talented.

“I just loved racing and competing against people. When I got to the club, I started to enjoy it more so I was racing all the time.

“I took a while to develop. I was good but I wasn’t anything special. In 2017 indoors, I improved a lot and that kind of got me on the radar.”

Though she only turned 16 last month, there is already a lot of expectation on Adeleke’s shoulders, along with compatriots like Sarah Healy and her relay teammate Gina Akpe-Moses.

For the moment, she’s content to plug away at her prepared program and complete the step up to Under-20 and, eventually, to senior level.

“I’d usually step up maybe to Under-20 level for some of my races, to compete against the older and more experienced girls.

“I’ve been racing a lot at Under-20 level this year. The transition is already almost finished. And from junior to senior level, the next few years should be OK

“I still run under-18 and hopefully I’ll be at the European Youth Olympic festival next year again. I also have senior level to look at, maybe for relay.”

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