Oluwakemi Mujidat Adekoya is a Nigerian-born track and field athlete who competes for Bahrain.
She was born on 16th January, 1993 to the family of Alhaji and Alhaja Adekoya.
Awijare News caught up with MJ, as she’s fondly called by her coach during her visit to Nigeria recently and she opened up about her personal live, athletics career, future plans and much more:
Kemi revealed that she started athletics when she was in Nursery/Primary School and she proceeded to Command Secondary School in Eboyin, her games mistress, Miss Tolu who’s now late told her someday “if you continue with this your sport, there’s future for you. ”
“The first time I went to the stadium, it’s my mum that took me to the stadium and then I started training with Coach Lati who really tried his best to initiate me into the world of athletics, he saw my passion and built on it a solid foundation. I’m really grateful to him.”
“Despite my mum’s support, my daddy did not support me from the onset, what he wanted was for me to go to school and I thank God that today, I was able to fulfill his dream as I’m a graduate of unilag, Lagos. Nigeria.
My daddy his very happy with my choice of career today.”
Kemi competed for the first time as a professional in 2010 inside the Mainbowl of the Teslim Balogun Stadium, Surulere, Lagos Nigeria. Though she can’t remember some of the athletes she competed against then, she’s able to remember Abike and Ruka, who are still doing very well in athletics today.
When she was asked how she became a Bahrain International, Kemi was silent for a long time as if she was in deep thought, she later sigh and said, “all my life, I’ve dreamt of how to compete and win Laurel for my motherland, Nigeria….. But Man proposes, God disposes, the choice of Bahrain came suddenly and accidentally. It was tough and difficult decision for me to make, but today I thank God I made the decision. It is the best decision of my life”
When she was asked how does she feel competing against Nigeria, “though I’m a Nigerian by blood, but I’m also a professional, my aim and goal now is to win laurels for my Country Bahrain, even if it comes at expense of beating Nigeria. After winning the Gold, Nigeria can take the next medal which is the Silver”
When asked for the reasons why she dumped Nigeria, Kemi who seems not to want to go into the details just implore those in charge of athletics in Nigeria to make athletes happy, I was running 55.30 (and I was the first person to run such time in Nigeria then. Ajoke Odumosu who had a better time ran hers outside Nigeria), but there were too many challenges. In her words, “before I started running at all, there were many athletes who dumped Nigeria, even after I changed allegiance to Bahrain, there are several athletes who had also done the same. There are still several athletes who wish to dump Nigeria given the opportunity. That means, the circumstances that make Nigeria athletes to prefer other countries are still there and except such circumstances are removed, we will continue to produce athletes for other Countries. Nigeria cannot continue to be “feeders team” to other countries. Nigeria is a big Country, Giant of Africa with deposit of great talents, those in leadership know the right thing, so, they should do the right thing.”
Adekoya’s first race of 2014 marked a significant change for her career. Making her debut on the Diamond League circuit, she defeated the entire elite 400 m hurdles field in a surprise win. Her time of 54.59 seconds was a world-leading one, and also a Bahraini national record
I’ve always known I was going to make it as an athlete, “when I was in the Secondary School, I watched people like Sanya Richards and Allyson Felix. I sometimes read about Allyson Felix, they called her Chicken legs and I was just dreaming someday, I will be like her. Though, I didnt know that I was going to compete with her, chat with her and relate with her as I do today. Though I was determined, God help me and I’m grateful to him.
Today, Kemi Adekoya is the National record holder in both 400m flat and hurdles. Her record of 50.72 was set on Saturday 13th August, 2016 in Rio Olympics. When asked about her feeling setting such personal best, Kemi was modest by saying, I thank God for that, but that’s is gone now. The next target is Asia and World record.
However, her Olympics medal hope in 2016 was truncated by injury. Her hurdles National Record of 54.12 was set in Paris Diamond League
Kemi Adekoya is the Asia indoor record holder in both 400m flat and hurdles.
Kemi had sent a note of warning to all her competitors all over the world to watch out for her this season. She however said that her premium priority this season is the World Championship.
Kemi was full of praises for her coach, Akeem Oyewole whom he described as God sent. In her word, “after I left my former coach in 2012, Coach Akeem has been coaching me since then and I saw great improvement. I’ve been able to achieve within short time through the help of God, those things I did not think I could achieve in a very long time.”
She also thank Samuel Francis, another Nigerian-born athlete competing for Quarter, “Samuel Francis really supported me and still supporting me”
When I was in Nigeria struggling, Mr. Jolomi was a great support. There’s a time he gave me a target to run a time and promised me canvass. When I ran the time, he fulfilled his promise and gave me another target, when I met the target, he gave me a pair of running spike.
I’m really grateful to them and several others whom I can’t mention for want of space.
When asked if she wished to come back home and give back to the system someday, she said yes (though I heard she’s already sponsoring a lady athlete).
My advice for upcoming athlete is not to see the Federation as the reason they run. They should not overdependent on the federation. You can make your money outside of Nigeria, but you have to work for it. Don’t get discouraged by what the federation is doing or not doing, be focused and be determined. They should be hardworking and rely on God.
My advice for the federation is to make the athletes happy, it is time for another election, the outgoing Board has done their best, they should put those who can consolidate on the strength of the outgoing board and improve on their weaknesses. An election is an opportunity to begin again, they should elect wisely for the benefits of the Nigeria athletes.