INTERVIEW: How I became Africa’s fastest man — Nigeria’s Raymond Ekevwo

Raymond Ekevwo 
Raymond Ekevwo 

One of the biggest moments for Nigeria at the 2019 African Games was the emergence of Raymond Ekevwo as the fastest man on the continent.

With an impressive time of 9.96secs, Ekevwo joined the elite list of few Nigerians to have run the 100m under 10secs. He also ended the country’s 12-year wait for gold in the Blue Ribbon event.

Ekevwo tells PREMIUM TIMES in Morocco how hard he has worked to achieve his new feat, he also bares his mind on other issues in athletics and more.

PT: Congratulations on your new feat as Africa’s fastest man with your gold medal in the 100m. How does that make you feel?

Ekevwo: I can’t really explain, I just want to thank God for the season and how things have gone for me. It’s a great feeling even though it has been rough and at the same time, it has been a fantastic year.

PT: The African Games in Morocco is your first senior championship for Nigeria and you won the gold medal. How does it feel hitting it big for the country in your first attempt?

Ekevwo: It feels great, I just want to say God bless Nigeria and big thanks to everyone that made this happen.

PT: We know there are bigger things still ahead of you like the World Championships and the Olympics, what would you like the country and the Athletics Federation of Nigeria to do for you going forward?

Ekevwo: Though they are trying, I just hope our federation, the ministry and the country as a whole will come out with better plans of supporting the athletes because when they do that, they will be getting better performances and results from the athletes. I just hope they can do more for the athletes than they are doing at the moment. We need a lot of support to perform better.

PT: You are now a legend in your own right as you have joined the very few athletes like Chidi Imoh, Davidson Ezenwa, Deji Aliu and Olusoji Fasuba who all won gold at the African Games. Can you tell us the secret to your success?

Ekevwo: There is really no secret, basically, you just have to be focused on your goal at all times. It is important you don’t give up no matter the challenges, just keep working towards achieving your goal; one day you will definitely get it right.

My coach and I have always been giving our all in the training, he keeps pushing me on the track each day to go for the best I could ever be.

He did his best for me to come to Morocco, to do what needed to be done and the result was the gold I won.

PT: You have surprised many in Morocco by winning the 100m gold. Can we expect even more surprises at the IAAF World Championships next month in Doha?

Ekevwo: I cannot make any promises rather than that I will give my very best. In each race I run, I just go there, execute what I learned in training, what my coach taught me before the race and I know when I do the right thing, I always get results. Going for the World Championships, I will be going there to do what I need to do to get a good outing and result.

PT: Many people now know Raymond but tell us about your journey into Track and field.

Ekevwo: I started track and field as a career like five years ago, this is in 2014 after I finished secondary school.

Before then, I never took it seriously though I was competing in my school during inter-house sports and the likes, but I didn’t take it seriously as a career.

However, right from 2014 I started fully and since then, it has been a steady progress for me and I really want to say a big thank you to God for the opportunity and the talent given to me.

PT: So why athletics and not any other sport like football etc?

Ekevwo: It has always been my passion. It all started when I was a child, I loved running and chasing people and things around. Track and field is interesting. There is more to it because it teaches you a lot of things: how to be alone, to be strong, interact with people and so on. It teaches you basically about life.

PT: Did you get your parent’s backing going into a sport?

Ekevwo: Yes, my parents have been very supportive, they have been there for me all these years right from school and also my career as a track and field athlete.

They don’t just support me financially but in every other way, you can think of, in prayers and all of that. I really what to say a big thank you to them. They are very important in my success story and they have been my greatest supporters.

READ ALSO : 2019 African Games: Nigeria now second on medals table

PT: You were formerly based in Nigeria before going to the USA, would you say that has helped in shaping your career?

Ekevwo: Yes, you can say that one of the best things that have happened to me is going to the University of Florida, it has been a major change in my life.

I want to say thank you to the school for that great opportunity they have afforded me; the school is part of the success story alongside my coach, my trainer, and teammates in school.

PT: So what are you studying at the University of Florida

Ekevwo: I am at the moment studying African/ American studies but I am trying to change to Criminology.

PT: Any advice for athletes back at home also hoping for a breakthrough like yours?

Ekevwo: One thing I always tell people is that they should never give up no matter how difficult it is. They should continue to work very hard and very soon, they will get the results. Hard work pays and they just have to continue the good work. I want to tell everyone out there to keep working hard, not just athletes alone, but all people trying to achieve one thing or another.

PT: Thanks for your time

Ekevwo: You are welcome.

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