Rhasidat Adeleke: The Irish sprinter with the Midas touch

26 July 2019

Irish runner Rhasidat Adeleke has become the golden girl of the Baku 2019 European Youth Olympic Festival (EYOF). To paraphrase DJ Khaled: All she does is win, win, win.

The 16 year old competed in the girls’ 100m and 200m events at Baku 2019, winning both comfortably despite having come into the Games expecting to compete in only one of the events. The victories bring her overall gold-medal haul to six in a career that spans only three summers.

“I’m absolutely delighted,” she said after claiming the double. “I always had a dream to win both gold medals but for it to actually be real right now is just amazing.”

Adeleke won the 200m on Thursday in 23.92 seconds, ahead of silver medallist Mira Koszegi from Hungary, who finished in 24.15 seconds. On Tuesday, Adeleke took gold in the 100m in a time of 11.70, 0.19 seconds ahead of runner-up Johanna Kylmänen of Finland.

The two golds are an upgrade from the silver (200m) and bronze (4×100 relay) she took home from the 2017 EYOF in Györ, Hungary where she competed as a 14 year old. In addition to being two years older and wiser, Adeleke says that cutting her teeth at the Györ EYOF was a major factor behind her success in Baku.

“It educated me about what to expect competition-wise, and in terms of food and accommodation,” she said. “It made me familiar with the whole aspect of representing your country under a lot of pressure and expectation … I have so many great memories from Györ. It’s kind of like a duplicate of the real Olympics and it makes me eager to make it to the actual Olympics in the future.”

Adeleke’s already glittering career includes a podium-topping finish in the 200m at the European Under-18 championships in 2017 and silver in the 4×100 relay at the 2018 IAAF World U20 Championships. She can even point to a national long jump victory in 2006 for good measure.

If that wasn’t enough, the Dublin-born sprinter, who turns 17 in August, could also book her ticket to Tokyo for next year’s Olympic Games with the Irish relay team, which will compete in qualifying races later this year.

“I praise God for my achievements and Athletics Ireland, the Institute of Sport and the Olympic Federation of Ireland for the opportunity and the support,” she said when asked for the key to her success. “There are a lot of people who have helped me on my road to success – my friends, my family, my coach Daniel Kilgallon – I am very grateful to all of them.”

Having strung together so many wins in such a short period of time, it is unsurprising that Adeleke has been making quite a name for herself in her native Ireland. And now after completing the double in Baku, she is also garnering a lot of attention and encouragement from elsewhere around the continent.

“The support has been unreal,” she said. “On social media I’ve been getting so many texts and messages. It makes you want to perform [at your best] every single time because all the support is amazing.”