By Yemi Sodeeq Sportspro, Kwara.
No doubt, he must have proved his worth beyond mere hit such that he had eight different scholarship offers to study in the United States of America between 2014 and 2020.
In a recent interview with Sportspro News correspondent, the former Kwara State and Nigeria athlete, David Olowookere talked his roots, hopes and becoming the best as a new student of Drake University in the US.
Olowookere with his personal best of 51 minutes 7 seconds of 400mh, is among many Nigerians who make it to the ‘haven’ of their dream with mix of tales.
Talking about his pedigree, David noted that his late father hailed from Ilesha in Osun State and his mother from Eruku, Ekiti Local Government Area of Kwara State.
But he would tend towards his maternal side because Kwara State showed him love and platform to showcase his skills and talent over the years.
“When I started, there are some places you will laugh and cry with me. But, this is a new phase of my life- It’s been God” the 400m National Sports Festival Champions reflected.
David narrated that he was born in to a family of Nine and as the last son of the family, his parent didn’t really believe they could have any child again when he was born. But for a prophecy, he came alive.
The circumstances of his birth appears divine; a gesture, which to an African society tells a lot of about child fortunes and being special- He was born of a prophecy by a pastor and now living by a prophecy he said of himself.
“We Christian believe in God’s direction and so my mother told me that one prophet told my father that my parent will have a new child- a boy and his name will be David” he reminisced.
Just after his birth, he came in contact with the bitter side of life as things went bad for his parent but there was something that defined his childhood which would later become the decider of his life.
“When I came, It wasn’t a nice time.Things was not going as planned but during my childhood I was very energetic and my adrenaline were always pumping up fast”.
Recalling some of his travails: “I attended a private school but got to a point, financially the family was down and I have to dropped out from the private school to public School, Government Day Secondary School, Adewole where I started my sporting career very well”
David Beckham and Christiano Ronaldo was his model, but his speed was too much for football, Why and How?
He couldn’t imagined a life on the track because his love for football was overwhelming and the penchant for wearing jersey number 7 was ebullient. Yet, he had a problem of recovering back whenever he plays the flank- much to his ‘extra’ speed .
“I love and play football very well, David Beckham and Christiano Ronaldo happens to be my role model then, and because I love wearing jersey 7, I developed interest in playing 7 on the pitch”.
At GDSS Adewole, he later met with Coach S.O Ibrahim who engineered the shift to athletics.
“Your speed is just too much for football; playing football will just kill your talent. You are a sprinter not a footballer and I will like you to take to athletics” he recalled how his teacher advised him .
Although, he wasn’t happy with what the Coach said but the teacher was so serious about it that he eventually registered him for a competition even when he still “court” with football; feeding his dream to be like Christiano Ronaldo.
“He registered me for an inter school competition in 2014 but I didn’t do well. So, when I came back, I told myself track and field is not your way”. ‘Ororo’ as he his fondly called explained.
Later on, He would go to track and field training with his soccer booth and after the training, he will still go back to football and it got a time he can’t hold it together- The shift was about to be permanent now because the narrative eventually changed with his experience in a 4km race.
“So in 2014, he (Coach Ibrahim) registered me for another 4km race. And for the first time as a secondary school student among many other students from high institutions; I took third position in the race and that opened my heart to running”.
From then on, he has participated in about fifty competitions and
won over 30 medals for his School, State and the Country.
He noted another twist of life was when his father died: “One of my trying period is when i lost my dad. He was my Coach my father, my mentor and everything to me”
According to David, his father had impacted on him virtues which has helped his life and career adding that as a Christian he must uphold the tenets of Christendom to the latter or he might loses Christ’s support.
He wished his father is alive now to witness his transformation and the manifestation of the “prophecy”.
Track and field for him hasn’t been easy because he believes running is beyond what we see and it takes God to break hurdles. “It’s another thing to run outside and another thing to run on the track; one need God” he exclaimed.
Although he now does 400m event, but he had transversed other forms of race like long distance race of 4km, 5000m , 3000m, 1,500m, 800m and 400m .
“I wasn’t striking the right chord in those period, It got to a time I wanted to do 400m hurdles and I was told by those coaching me then that 400m hurdles is not something I can just rush into, I need more strength and endurance”
But that didn’t stop him from doing what he wanted. Even with his legs formation and height which many had observed would be a barrier, coupled with initial failures, he has achieved the most running 400m hurdles race.
“I can’t count the number of competitions i have attended but I have gone to more than 50 competitions and won over 30 medals, one of them is National Sports Festival record in 2018”
The US journey and another prophecy
For Olowookere, he has always told his school mates and colleagues when he was in junior class that he will never pay to study in the University and would never study in a Nigeria university.
“The genesis of my USA journey started back in 2014 and from that time till now, I have gotten over 8 different scholarships from the US but because there is time for everything under the heaven- This is my time and I thank God for helping me”. David remarked.
How the video clip and love for Blue Colour shaped the University choice
It all started in 2018 after emerging as a champion in the National Sports Festival. His video went viral and his phone would subsequently be buzzling with calls from all parts of the world with interest to offer him opportunity.
He said in his words: “I remember a particular press man called me from Columbia and said my video went viral, so many schools were calling him from the US to get my informations.
Among the schools which expressed interest in him is Drake University, Des Moines Iowa State in the US.
Olowookere said he was happy to accept Drake University giving the fact that their colour is Blue -his favorite.It was a dream come through according to him as he will be studying Law, Politics and Society- The prophecy is now a reality.
“I don’t have any cause about wearing kits again,feeding is not a problem because I am on scholarship and all charges paid. What I have to do now is just to study,train and run” He enthused.
And with his achievements as the 2019 CAA Region II 400Mtrs Gold medalist ,110Mtrs hurdles Silver medalist, 2019 African U20 Finalist, National Sports Festival 400m hurdles Champion and record holder, he expressed optimism at conquering more in the upcoming African and World Athletics Championships.
Although his new environment is “partially strange to him”, he is gradually finding the rythm with his acclimatization period.
He appreciated the leadership of Amatuer Athletics Association of Kwara State under the able leadership of Alhaji Tunde Abdulkareem for their contributions and support to his career over the years.
While also pouring encomiums on his Mother, Sister, friends, loved ones and his fans at the Kwara State Stadium headed by Oladele Radical and Odion Wilson, he acknowledged their contributions has been key to all his achievements.
“I want to also thank my Coaches headed by Coach Biodun Adeyemi,Coach Muritala (Murimore), Coach Niyi Awe, Coach Bello, and Mr Tunde Raji (Sampalorajini), Sportspro News Publisher, Bayour Issah,my friend and love Oghenemiro Mirotee and host of others for their support towards making this journey possible”.
David who said he is in America to make Nigeria proud urged all his fellow athletes that there’s no limit and barrier to what they can achieve telling them no obstacle that can’t be broken with believe in God and their dream.