By Wale Ayeni,@vjwale
Former football rising star David Olowookere dumped the round leather game to become one of the country’s fastest runners, setting a new Festival record of 51.07seconds to win the men’s 400m hurdles event at the recently concluded 19th National Sports Festival (NSF) in Abuja.
Olowookere left the Athletics Federation of Nigeria (AFN) with no choice rather than to erase the old 400m hurdles record of 51.77secs set by Martins Igberase then of Bendel State at the 1991 National Sports Festival in Bauchi.
In a chat with LEADERSHIP Sports the Osun state born athlete revealed how he was advised by his football coach to shun his footballing career and head for the tracks while reiterating his NFS successful outing for Team Oyo.
“When I got to the senior class, my coach then told me that football will end my ca reer quickly that my talents are for athletics. He said my speed was not needed in football. I had a problem in football which was that I found it hard to track back and run.” He said
“Since I made the switch, it has been good. I started from 4km to 1500m then to 800m which I did for some months before I came down to 400m. I made the move to run 400m hurdles and I told my coach who encouraged me.”
“I’m so happy winning the gold medal and not letting down my manager and sponsors. It’s a stepping stone to greater heights breaking a national festival record is a plus to my career. I was elated when my coach ran a distance to hug me when I won the race. I saw it that I won the race before now at the Shiloh Ground.”
“My coach told me that 14 years ago, he won a gold medal at the 2004 National Sports Festival. He told me he was sure that I would replicate his feat. He was called the ‘Golden Boy’ then and he is the ‘Golden Father’. He is Johnson Adeyemi Abiodun from Kwara State.”
He also mentioned that he didn’t regret running instead of playing football adding that his looking at going past 32 years old record set by Henry Amike who finished in 48.50s
“I don’t regret ditching football for athletics. They are the same as they require running. When I am done with athletics, I will go back to football similar to what Usain Bolt is doing.”
“Some people told me that the shape of my legs and running form won’t take me far that I would be wasting my time but I keep motivating myself that I can do it.”
“My target is to break Nigerian record set by Henry Amike in 1987 who clocked a time of 48.50s”.
Olowookere said his target is a podium finish athlete at the upcoming All African Games in Morocco and to qualify for the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games.
“I want to start my training for the Tokyo 2020. My coach always says the end of a competition is the beginning of the new competition. I will go to the All Africa Junior Championships, All Africa Games, World Championships and the Olympics.” He concluded