Speed kills. Unless of course you are making a whole career out of it. On the 17th of September, 2020, fortune smiled on us as correspondents Egbeyemi Bowofoluwa and Shaib Moses got to interview the Olympic medalist and Nigerian legend, Deji Aliu, who is one of the only 145 people in human history who have been recorded running a hundred meters in less than ten seconds. For one who is an Olympian and a Nigerian, we got an insight on his views. Here is what he had to say.
Hi, can we meet you?
My name is Deji Aliu. I am an Olympian.
It’s great to meet you. Can we know why you started running? Did you find athletics or did it find you?
I started running right from my secondary school days. I can say that I found athletics because it is something I had loved doing right from when I was in secondary school, and I loved running so much. So, yeah, I think I found athletics.
Did you have any goals in mind when you started out?
Well, when I started, I never had any goals. I just loved running, so for me, it was just about running. I was just passionate about running. For me, it was running, running and running.
Wow, that says a lot about passion. What does it feel like being one of only 145 people in human history to have run the 100 meters in less than ten seconds?
Honestly, it really feels good when I look back and realize that I am among the 145 people in the world that have run below 10 seconds. I feel really good and I am really proud of it. For me, the highlight of my career was running a sub-10, because being in that class of “sub-10” means so, so much to me.
What was your biggest challenge in your career?
When I was coming out, the challenges were enormous, but one, a really difficult one, is the financial part of it. It was really difficult financing a lot of things I needed to do – from the training kits, to transportation. A whole lot bores down to finance. So basically, one of the challenges was in our finances but we scaled through.
It must be awesome to have scaled through such. That leads us to ask, how do you feel being a Nigerian affected your career? Positively or negatively?
Yeah, I am a Nigerian, and with the toughness in me, it affected my career positively, because it made me think back and made me realize where I am coming from and the reason why I need to put in so much to be able to get to the top of my career. So, I will say it affected my career positively.
That’s a great way to put it. What is the one thing you would love to change about sports in Nigeria though?
Oh well, I will like to change the way we manage sports in Nigeria. I mean, I think that is one area that we really need to look into critically. The management of sports in Nigeria needs to be looked into.
Let’s say you could do another sport, what sport would you have done if you did not do track and field?
Yeah, outside track and field, I think I will probably have taken to basketball. Yeah, basketball.
What is your favourite football club and who is your favourite player?
My favourite football club is Chelsea Football Club of England, and my best player is Cristiano Ronaldo.
Okay, we are pretty sure your co-fans see this. What are your thoughts on the famous “school na scam” catchphrase?
Well, I think school is a scam, but being educated is not a scam.
Hmm that’s deep. Well, how has life after sports been for you?
I’m coaching athletes now. It’s only right that I give back to the sport that gave so so much to me. It’s been great.
What’s one advice you have for athletes starting out?
Stay focused and never give up. It’s not going to be easy but it will definitely be worth it.
Do you mind leaving us with your favourite quote?
My favourite quote, as far as track and field is concerned is, “Put in the work, and allow the legs to do the talking.”
That is great. Thank you for your time and good luck with your future endeavours
Yeah, you are welcome.
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