‘I Wish I Listened To My Dad, I Would Have Been A Nice Fashion Designer’ Falilat Ogunkoya Opens Up

Talking about athletes in Nigeria, the story can not be complete without mentioning the name of one of Nigeria’s finest athlete Falilat Ogunkoya-Omotayo. She is a Nigerian former track and field athlete who has won a number of national championships. She won a bronze medal at the Olympics game in 1996 amongst others. In the interview below, Ogunkoya spoke about her love for music and things she wished she had ventured into. Excerpts: 
 You are presently in your 50’s, are you still very active in sporting activities like before?
 It’s very good to be active. I still try to walk not to run because sport is sport and we just have to continue.

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How do you relax after a hectic day?
 Cooking makes me relax, people ask me why I do stress myself but it relaxes me. I don’t buy food outside, I cook my own food because it relaxes me.
 If you weren’t an athlete, what would you have ventured into?
If I wasn’t an athlete, I would have been a fashion designer. I remember my dad did tell me to go into fashion designing before I travelled to Europe but I didn’t do it. I wish I had agreed with my dad, I would have been a nice fashion designer who sells shoes, clothes.
Have you ever regretted going into sports?
 Going into sport was the best thing God has done for me, giving me the talent and I was able to showcase it. Very grateful to all the coaches for making me who I am today. The talent God gave me was well managed and I really thank God for it and to all those that contributed to my success.
Let’s go down memory lane. How did your parents accept the fact that you choose to be an athlete, did they discourage you at first?
My parents did not discourage me at all. My dad was very much involved. I had to tell my mum that maybe this is the path God has choosen for me, she should let me go ahead and do what God wants me to do and it was not a problem when my dad talked to my mom and she started praying for me. She died four months before the Olympics in 1996 that was very tough but my parents do support me which I really appreciate.
What are you up to recently, any ongoing projects whatsoever?
It’s covid. It has stopped us from doing all what we want to do, we just pray that Covid will go so that sports can come back to Nigeria fully because we have so much talent in this country.
What kind of songs do you listen to. Is it songs from the 80’s or trending songs?
I love songs alot, I love songs from the 80’s and few 90’s. I also listen to Nigerian songs as well but I love songs from the 80’s such as Reggae, King Sunny Ade, Fela Anikulapo Kuti, Whitney Houston. I listen to a lot of songs that cools my mind and also because it keeps the mind flowing.
 It is believed that those in the sports sector barely have time to socialize as they are always in training sessions. How true is this?
I do party little by little but not as much because as an athlete, we have a way we do our parties among ourselves. We do other things than sports. There’s a little way we do our things after a competition. We have a nice dance among ourselves, that’s what happens among ourselves while I was still competing and I believe it’s still happening but there’s a limit to what we can do because we don’t want to go out with friends and start drinking and doing other stuffs. It really helped to moderate our way of life.


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