One of Nigeria’s stars at the recently concluded Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, Enoch Adegoke, in an interview with CHARLES OGUNDIYA revealed that he was given his nickname ‘Kitipa’ because of his muscles. Excerpts…
How does it feel been an Olympian?
I feel great for real and proud. I am really excited especially getting to that level where I competed at the Olympics and also getting to the final of my event. I am so excited and give all glory to God Almighty.
Describe your experience in Tokyo…
Well, nothing much that I can put on paper, but in all, it feels golden going to Tokyo and having to put up the performances. It was a new experience for me because not all athletes achieve that opportunity of going to the Olympics; so having such grace, I am grateful for it.
Are you disappointed with the injury in the 100m final?
It was a difficult moment for me, at first I felt so bad and very disappointed, but I have learnt to always give thanks to God because He has reason for everything. Come what may, I will look up to God to always handle all matters that pertain to my life.
So what’s the future for Enoch after Olympics?
For now, the future is in the hands of God and I know He has a great and better future for me; so I am going to rely on Him for what will happen to me. Surely the future is bright and glorious.
People continue to call you Kitipa, how did you come about that nickname?
Actually it was my big brother and senior on the track, Emmanuel Arowolo, who nicknamed me Kitipa because of my muscle structure and that name has stuck since.
Running sub-10secs, what does that do to your career?
It has been long coming for me especially when I ran 10.00secs during the national trials in Lagos; so it was not a big surprise for me, however, a big boost so to say. I am going to build on that for a better time in the nearest future because I am just starting.
How did you manage the weather in Tokyo?
For somebody coming from Nigeria, it was kind of familiar and I didn’t have much issue adapting to it. In Nigeria, we are used to such weather and I have been competing back at home in Nigeria all my career, so it was like my normal day although at times we experienced extreme hot weather.
What would you say was your best memory at the Olympics?
Two of them if I must say: the moment I ran my new Personal Best of 9.98secs which made me join the class of sub 10secs athletes and also getting to the 100m final, which was another history on its own for me. I am grateful to God for everything.
What will be your advice to the athletes going for World Junior Championship in Kenya?
First, I want to congratulate all the athletes that made it to Kenya and I want them to understand that even though they are representing Nigeria, it’s their names first, so they should go there, do what will speak well of their names and the country at large. No matter the result, the most important thing is to put in their best, whatsoever their best can produce, they should accept it and give thanks to God. But the key thing is for them to put in the hard work and trust in God for the best.
How will you assess Team Nigeria’s performance in Tokyo?
For me I will say everyone did very well in Tokyo. The result might not be what was expected, but the performances were great from all the athletes, from athletics to gymnastics, to table tennis and the others.
How easy or difficult has it been for you combining sports with education in Nigeria?
I will just say it has been the grace of God sustaining me all these years. It has not been easy going from training to class and back to class again. Sometimes you will have to skip classes or school because you have to go for competitions and sometimes go into camp in preparation for competitions. If it was my strength alone, then I can’t do it but God has always been there for me. On my own part, I have not been nonchalant with anything; I put my all into my studies.
So how do you cope with examinations?
Is it a case of working extra hard to achieve results or what do you do? I don’t really have anything special because as athletes, we have little or no time to prepare for exams. Most times we just read for exams and try to pass. Although for those of us reading courses that have to do with sports, like Human Kinetics, it is much easier. But for someone like me studying Geography, I have to do everything to pass the exams.
Have you been getting any support from home?
My parents have been supporting me right from day one, although at some point they got a bit discouraged, especially after spending a lot on me only for me to go out to represent the country with nothing coming out from it. But after the Commonwealth Games, they saw it as my calling and they have been there for me and now that I am an Olympian, they are very happy for me.
You got to the final of the 100m at the last Commonwealth Games, and in 2021, you got to the final of the Olympics, what should be the expectation at the World Championships next year?
I believe in possibilities and also achieving the best in all I do. I am waiting for the time to come as I have been working so hard to prepare for the future. However, I need to take care of my injury first and see how I can get myself ready ahead of next year.
Talking about injury, the ministry of sports already promised to foot the bill of your treatment, likewise three others; what would you say about this and also the support from the government so far?
When I heard that the ministry will be taking care of my treatment, I was very happy. While going to Tokyo, I was adopted and that helped me to give my all and it was so unfortunate that I had that injury in the final. Despite that, I was happy that I was able to end a 25- year absence of a Nigerian in the final. I thank the Federal Government through the minister and the ministry of sports for their support for the athletes. This kind gesture will help me to give my all in the future while competing for Nigeria. There are a lot of competitions ahead, and with my age I know the sky is just the starting point for me.
How did you get into sports and why athletics?
While growing up, I just loved running and that’s what I have been doing. From my primary and secondary schools I had been into sports; football as normal kids and then athletics. I have dedicated all my life to track and field for now.
You’ve been having a rivalry with two of your friends, Emmanuel Arowolo and Alaba Akintola, what has been the relationship among the three of you?
Our rivalry on the track has always been a healthy one and what we want to do is achieve the best whenever we are competing. Whatever happens on the track doesn’t stop our friendship off the track and that’s what we have been doing. Even on the track, we are still friends.
Most Nigerian athletes have moved abroad and they are doing well; do you think that’s the best thing to do?
If you ask those that travelled abroad, they will tell you going that move will give them more opportunities and exposure to better facilities, competitions and so on compared to what we have back home in Nigeria. To be honest with myself, I’d love to travel abroad to enjoy the same opportunity because all athletes want to get the best out of their career.
Who is your role model in sports?
I will say my coach, Ayokunle Odelusi. He is more than a coach to me. He was an athlete too and he has showed me what it is to be great and to get to the top. If I should mention another person, I’d say Yohan Blake from Jamaica; I so much admire him.