Rhasidat Adeleke has been a well-known face to Irish athletics fans for many years now. Back in 2018, at the age of just 15, Adeleke was part of the Irish 4x100m Relay Team that won silver at the World U20 Championships in Finland. While Adeleke didn't race in the final, the very fact that she was there in the first place at such a young age was a sign of things to come.
Given she was such an extraordinary talent it was no surprise that when Adeleke finished secondary school at Presentation Terenure she had multiple offers to take up a scholarship in America. She opted for Texas University where she has just completed her second year studying Economics. Adeleke is now under the guidance of Edrick Floreal, a former long jumper turned coach who previously mentored the 400m Hurdles world record holder Sydney McLaughlin. Leaving behind long-term coach Daniel Kilgannon was a risky move for Adeleke to take but it has ultimately came to fruition.
Last summer Adeleke won an impressive double gold at the European Junior Championships in Estonia winning the 100m and 200m with ease.
— European Athletics (@EuroAthletics) July 17, 2021
While her 2021 season was impressive, she has achieved even larger feats in 2022 and has even been likened to Usain Bolt by Floreal.
Adeleke's indoor season set her up perfectly for an action packed summer of racing. In only the second week of January she broke the Irish indoor 300m record running 36.87s. In February in Albuquerque the records kept coming as she ran 22.85s to take the national indoor record in the 200m.
Being over six feet tall Adeleke doesn't have the most explosive starts out of the blocks but managed still to run 7.17s for 60m indoors to break the Irish record at that distance also in March. Before the start of the year no Irish woman had ever ran under 7.20s for the 60m; now two have, with Molly Scott achieving the feat before Adeleke managed to.
At the end of March, she began racing outdoors and continued her upward trajectory. On the first weekend of April, Adeleke ran a superb new national 200m record of 22.59s which now nearly four months on still remains the fourth fastest by a European this season.
'Clearly' a 400m runner
Floreal decided that then was the time for Adeleke to step up a distance to the 400m. Previously she had only ever ran the race as part of a relay but he could see her potential and believed it was worth pursuing further. Adeleke is "clearly" a 400m athlete in Floreal's mind but he is focused on keeping the sport fun for her at the moment and with the 400m being a more painful and endurance based event has not moved her to the event full-time.
One of her standout achievements in her career to date came in mid-May when she ran 50.70s for 400m at the Big 12 Championships to beat Joanne Cuddihy's fifteen-year national record in what was only her second ever outdoor race over the distance, her first coming the day before.
On the back of such fantastic performances Adeleke made the Irish team for the World Athletics Championships in Eugene, Oregon where she ran both the 4x400m Mixed Relay and 400m individual last month. She anchored the team in the relay as they qualified from the semi-final, however missed out on competing in the final due to illness.
Adeleke returned for the individual heats comfortably advancing before finishing fourth in her semi-final running 50.81s, narrowly missing out on a final place. The teenager finished ninth overall, with eight advancing to the final.
Super run from @rhasidatadeleke in her world 400m semi-final. Finished fourth in her heat, ninth overall. Ran 50.81, just 0.16 away from qualification, and 0.11 off her national record. Really impressive from the 19-year-old at her debut World Championships. pic.twitter.com/JyvJWVj4cs
— PJ Browne (@P_J_Browne) July 21, 2022
It is a remarkable achievement for Adeleke; however, she is striving for more.
In her world semi-final, Adeleke ran in the lane inside of Shauna Miller-Uibo. Miller-Uibo is a two-time Olympic champion having won gold in Rio and Tokyo and has a personal best of 48.36s. Speaking back in 2018 when asked who her hero in the sport Adeleke selected the Bahamian athlete.
"She’s an athlete I’d compare myself to and would like to follow her footsteps and be like her in the future," Adeleke said.
Four years on Adeleke will feel even closer to reaching Miller-Uibo's level.
Comparisons are now being constantly made about Adeleke across the world of athletics, but one stands out the most. Her coach Edrick Floreal likened her to the legendary Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt when speaking to Sinead Kissane in the Irish Independent in May.
“The last time you had a sprinter with that kind of (stride) length was Bolt," he said.
Rarely do people that tall have this sort of fast-twitch fibre, and she just possesses so much of it. I told her she was going to be a superstar.
“I coach a lot of athletes but this is a premier athlete from Ireland. I have a responsibility as an American coach not to put potentially Ireland’s greatest sprint future in danger."
After much deliberation, Adeleke has now been selected to be part of the Irish team at the upcoming European Championshops in Munich where she will compete in both the 400m and 4x400m Women's Relay, Adeleke will hope that her fabulous season will continue and she can challenge for a podium spot later this month.
Rhasidat Adeleke - 2022 Irish Records
60m - 7.17s
200m - 22.85s
300m - 36.87s
200m - 22.59s
400m - 50.70s