New Telegraph

How Ese Brume drivES me to excellence–National champion, Ruth Usoro

One of the country’s medal hopefuls at the 2022 World Athletics Championships and Commonwealth Games in Oregon, USA and Birmingham, UK respectively, Ruth Usoro, in this interview with CHARLES OGUNDIYA revealed her love for the radio. The Akwa Ibom State-born Texas Tech University student said she is looking forward

You have been competing in both the long and triple jump, how has it been for you?

It’s been interesting and I thank God for the strength He gave me to compete in these events and to understand the technicalities of both. These are two different events and there are things you can do in one and not in the other. They both have their ways and you have to understand that before taking part in any of the two. It took a lot of practice and patience for me to get to where I am today in both, and I am grateful to God and those who have been helping me, I mean my coaches.

At the National Championships in Nigeria, you won gold in the triple jump and silver in the long jump, how do you feel having two national medals?

It’s all glory to God because He gave me the power to do this and secondly the talent He has bestowed on me is all I am just using. It’s an honour to me. Anyone else can do this but I’m humbled to be able to do this and exceed in both. I’m honoured to be competing alongside the world’s best and I’m honoured to win the triple jump. There are so many athletes competing for the country and I am happy to be among them and also going as far as representing the country at major championships around the world.

You will be competing alongside world and Olympic Games bronze medalist, Ese Brume, in the long jump event at the World Championships and Commonwealth Games, how good is it for you to be at such a stage despite your age?

It’s an honour competing alongside her. We competed together in Serbia at the World Indoor Championships in March where she won the silver medal and she was able to push me to my best. She’s not just a great teammate but a great sister to have by your side. Competing with her will encourage me more and make me go higher and better. My belief is that, if God can help her to the level she is today, He will help me also. I’m just honoured and blessed to share the track with her.

There are so many young athletes competing for Nigeria at the moment, what does this mean for the country?

It shows there is still hope for Nigerian athletics. In the ‘90s, people were winning and suddenly it stopped, but now we are back to winning and I am sure it is going to continue. We a r e ready to give our best and there is light at the end of the tunnel; Nigerian athletics is coming back again and the light is getting brighter. We haven’t even scratched the surface yet and talents will emerge if we have the facilities that we need. Back at home in Nigeria, there are so many talented athletes who would have been at the top there with proper facilities and sound training. I know we are getting there and like I said, we are yet to even scratch the surface, if we do this, the world will surely hear from Nigeria positively.

While women athletes have been doing well, it has been a case of neither here nor there for the men, how do you think the gap can be bridged?

The men have been trying their best but their sports are hard levels both at home and abroad. They are doing all they can and I think we just need time for the talent to develop. Nigeria has to organise more competitions because even most of the women achieving results are all foreign-based. Home-based can do great, but if we are not able to provide the needed facilities for them to excel,there is no way they can do that. Going back to the men, they are doing great and we need to have support for them. It happened before and we have to go back to the drawing board and see the things that were happening before that are not happening now. We have great people in our federation and we just need support. They have been organising competitions and we know that things can get better by His grace. We know that they will do more and we will soon see our men ruling the world.

Two major championships were scheduled very close to each other; while the World Championships is ongoing now in the United States, the Commonwealth Games is just days after the conclusion of the Oregon event, don’t you think there should be enough space between the two?

I won’t really say there should be space because as a former collegiate athlete, we compete every week. It’s basically the same thing; although it’s on a high level once we have a push, I trust the athletes we have in Nigeria. Nigerian athletes will give it their best and they have been doing that from the beginning. With or without space, as long as we are given what we need physically, emotionally, and mentally we are going to give it our best and do great.

You already competed in the triple jump with the long jump coming for you at the World Champs and also at the Commonwealth Games, what should we expect from Ruth?

My events and career are to glorify God. I just want to go out there and do my best for God, my family and those that have been supporting me. I always work hard in training and also pray to God because without Him, I am just like every other person.

What would you say has been the difference between combining education and athletics in the United States and back home in Nigeria?

It’s way easier because the system of sports and education are intertwined and they basically work together. When you want to go to a competition, going to represent the school, you are excused from classes. The athletics employees send an email to your professor and you are not counted as being absent and you are given more time to do your assignments depending on the professor. Though it’s tasking and you have to practice and you have to be excellent in both. That is one thing that Nigeria is missing because both are not intertwined and they don’t work hand in hand. That is why it’s easier for athletes to perform well abroad because your scholarship depends on how well you perform in both school and sports. You can’t be average in any. None should be lacking and you are more comfortable. So, what will be your advice to the athletes back at home in the area of education and sports? I’m a goal-getter when it comes to education be-cause sports won’t last forever. I will advise those back home to take education seriously and when you need help ask the tutors. Don’t put all your eggs in one basket. I always tell people that you are more than an athlete and you just have to find it. COVID-19 helped me find it and it’s left for athletes to know that they have the brain for books and they have other capacities that God embedded in them.

You just mentioned that COVID helped you find the things embedded in you, could you share them?

I started a podcast where I talked about God and I realized I’m free when it comes to doing interviews and talking to people. I’m free behind the camera so I really want to go into the radio aspect of my course. I have a podcast called Abba’s Word. I talk about God and I’ve been able to post 11 episodes in two years. I have 400 plays and 11 countries that have been able to listen to my podcast in the U.S. and outside the U.S. We are definitely more than athletes. You just have to pray to the Lord to show you what He has embedded in you.

You alongside some other athletes started a website called Athletic Heat, what informed that decision?

We have Ese Ogoma. We realised athletes were not projected and we wanted to show the world that athletes are great. Coaches abroad have been able to see athletes that are performing so well and even get them scholarship and they have been able to leave the country. It made us feel like some athletes were not being rewarded for their good work, so why don’t we start something like that. Reward drives performance and they do more and see that people believe in them. Even if we don’t get award for doing it, we are happy. We want to show that athletes are doing well and we are great.

You have achieved a lot through sports and if it was not for sports, what do you think you would have become?

I love being behind the camera but I prefer being in the radio more; so, that is what I would have done. I don’t really like the aspect of journalism. I don’t want to go out and look for a story and come back to write it. I prefer coming into a studio and doing a show with others where we discuss a topic. I don’t have to talk about the news. I don’t want to be a newscaster or reciter, I want to own my own show and do it my own way.

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