"I Want To Become One Of The Greats In The Sport"

"I Want To Become One Of The Greats In The Sport"
By Rory Cassidy Updated

It's back to reality today for Israel Olatunde.

Just one week on from his heroics at the European Athletics Championships, Ireland's fastest ever man returned to the office this morning ahead of his final three days interning with KMPG.

In just under three weeks he will back in UCD as he heads into his final year of studying Computer Science.

Normal life returns, but life last week was far from normal for the 20-year-old.

"I went a little bit viral so I'm pretty happy with that," Olatunde laughs as he reflects on an extraordinary week in his athletics career.

"I didn't really expect people to react this way.

"I think our sport might go under the radar, but we do deserve the attention."

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Last Tuesday night in Munich's Olympiastadion, Olatunde announced himself to the entire country and to Europe.

If people weren't familar with the name Israel Olatunde, they certainly are now.

In the space of 10.17s history was made.

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An Irishman had ran in the final of the 100m at a European Championships for the first time, finishing sixth, and a 15-year national record had been broken.

"A lot has led to this point," Olatunde says.

"I knew that if I was in good shape and everything went right, I could definitely make the final.

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"It wasn't really a surprise but it still was obviously a really proud moment.

"I was overjoyed."

Olatunde has been working under the watchful eye of Daniel Kilgallon for the past three years in Tallaght. The relationship has worked extremely well, with both men enjoying a McDonald's together after Olatunde's exploits on Tuesday night.

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Both believe the Dundalk man can still improve.

"Technique wise, there's definitely things that I need to work on to make myself more efficient, to make my transition a bit smoother and to transition the power I generate at the start to speed towards the end.

"Overall, I think I can get much stronger in the gym and also increase my speed as well on the track," he adds.

"When I look at areas to improve literally in every part of my race there's things to improve on.

"Daniel, me, and my whole sprint group in Tallaght, are going to put in some work this winter just to see where we can get next year."

Irish sprinting is in a healthy position at the moment. Olatunde's sixth place finish was swiftly followed by former training partner Rhasidat Adeleke finishing fifth in the 400m, while the women's 4x400m relay team came sixth also.

Olatunde watched his great friend Adeleke from the stands admitting that he got extremely excited. He hopes the stars of Irish athletics now will inspire the next generation of kids across the country.

"I think it's great for young kids, not even just athletes, just young kids in general to watch us chasing our dreams.

"They can do the same thing no matter what it is.

"Whatever it is that you love to do, you can do it.

"As long as you just enjoy yourself and work hard anything's possible.

"Hopefully, we can inspire the next generation coming through."

Where to next for Israel Olatunde?

As heads into final year of study, Olatunde will also leave home for the first time, taking up residence at UCD's Belfield campus. Talk has already turned to where he will go after he completes his studies.

Offers have been coming in from American colleges and universities, and professional contracts have also been mooted. Olatunde is keen to keep his options open.

"I’ll see what's going be the best fit for me, whether that's here or abroad.

"That's something I'm going to have conversations with different people about, Daniel and everyone around me.

"It's a decision I'll leave for the future.

No matter what route he takes, it would appear at the minute that the sky is the limit for a hungry and ambitious Olatunde.

"This was a great championship, but I want more.

"I want medals and championships.

"I want to bring that record down as far as I can and to keep improving over the years.

"I want to become one of the greats in the sport."

SEE ALSO: Efrem Gidey Was Quietly One Of The Breakout Irish Stars Of Munich 22


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