Getting to know top British athlete, Ojie Edoburun
Following our recent partnership with top British 100m sprinter, Ojie Edoburun, we caught up with him to get the inside line on what makes him tick, his first Olympics and what his goals are for this season.
Born in 1996, Ojie grew up in north London with his family. From a young age, he was always full of energy but little did he know how this would lead him towards becoming one of the world’s fastest sprinters! Thinking back, he says; “One of my earliest memories is of my Dad taking me to the park, with me running around for hours. I just loved running. It wasn’t until I was at secondary school taking part in a sports day at Lea Valley Athletics Centre in north London, where I still train today, that one of the track employees saw me run the last leg of a relay race and thought I had potential. He asked me to come back to the track and train with Enfield & Haringey Athletics Club, which I did, and I’ve never looked back.”
Ojie did not have a particular career in mind at this stage in his life, he said; “I am a football fan and always thought about becoming a professional player. My speed was my biggest asset, but I’d need to work on my technique!”
Initially running for fun, he began to take it more seriously and the training became much more intense, improving his technique and making him stronger. “I trained for 6 hours a day, so staying dedicated to nutrition and recovery regimes became crucial.” Striving to continuously beat his personal best, Ojie’s big breakthrough came in 2013 when he won a silver medal in the 100m at the IAAF World Youth Championships, crossing the finish line in 10.35sec. “It was an incredible moment in my life and a transition to the senior ranks.” Two years later, he won his first gold medal in the 100m at the 2015 European Junior Championships; “This was a huge achievement, it really boosted my confidence. Looking back, I still had a mountain of work in front of me before I reached the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio.”
Selected to represent team GB at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio, Ojie said; “That was incredible because becoming an Olympian is such a special moment that you share with a select group of people who’ve competed down the years. Coming up from the junior ranks to make Team GB at just 20 years of age made it even more amazing for me, because it was so early in my career. It really opened my eyes to what you can achieve in sport if you are dedicated, disciplined and keep working hard.”
“The Olympic athlete’s village was a surreal place to be. There was a real mixture of people across all sports and nationalities. I remember seeing the Brazilian footballer, Neymar, having breakfast one morning and I couldn’t resist getting a selfie with him. It’s exciting because you’re all in the same bubble, so you mix together and everyone is respected as an athlete, regardless of how famous you might be. You don’t find many journalists or security guards in the village, so everyone is free to roam around and mingle. There were never any real rivalries or people sticking to their own team, I think that’s because a lot of people didn’t want to waste energy and were so focused on their own events.”
Despite his rapid rise to the podium, Ojie also revealed that achieving success at a young age also brought him close to breaking point after missing out on the 2017 World Championships in London. “I came fourth at the trials and didn’t get picked for the relay,” he said. “That was the biggest heartbreak of my career so far. I live 20 minutes from the track and I wasn’t even part of my home Championships. At that point, I asked myself – have I really got what it takes?”
That’s when he decided to change his approach, taking on Steve Fudge as his new coach and beginning to work on his mental strength with a new psychologist. In summer 2018, ex-GB decathlete Duncan Mathieson, became Ojie’s mentor and, together with Steve, revisited all aspects of his routines and training. They worked on a strategy for moving forward, which proved to be extremely successful, culminating in Ojie’s return to form.
With a marginal win in the men’s 100m at the British Championships in Birmingham on 24 August, Ojie edged Adam Gemili and Zharnel Hughes by one thousandth of a second with all three finishing in 10.18 seconds at the Alexander Stadium. He continues; “There is an extremely fine line for success in athletics, every inch of your body has to be fully focused on timing and precision to ensure everything is right during those 10 seconds. This season, my goal has been to make the IAAF World Championships in Doha. The competition for places was fierce, and I have had to be at my very best to secure my chance to compete.”
Ojie believes he is capable of reaching the final of the 100m at the World Athletics Championships in Doha. “I’m aiming to beat my 100m personal best and run under 10 seconds so I can make the cut. It’s a massive challenge.”
Besides his physical training, Ojie finds sources of inspiration from across the sporting world. “One of my favourite sports stars is the boxer, Anthony Joshua. I take a lot from his motivational social media posts, and I like that he’s operating at a crazy level but still displays an amazing amount of regiment and discipline in his day-to-day life. This gives a great example for anyone to follow and sets a high standard that I aspire to meet personally.”
“I’m also really lucky to get advice from the British sprinting legend, Linford Christie, who’s a real role model to me. I met him a few years ago at an athletics event and we started talking and have been in contact ever since. He gives me great pointers on mindset, mental strength and coping with failure. It’s amazing to benefit from his experience and it’s something I think people should consider doing more often in our sport, as a lot of the processes haven’t changed for decades and the mental focus is just as important as its always been.”
Away from training and events, Ojie loves being around people and socialising. “So much of my training is just focused on me alone, so it can sometimes be quite isolating. I take any chance I get to be around my favourite people – my friends, my girlfriend and my family – and watch a movie, maybe go out for dinner or just hang-out and watch tv or listen to music.”