SUPPORT: Julz Adeniran with Blue Mountain company director Nick Brown (left) and managing director Seymour Taylor
WITH JUST four weeks left until the Olympic trials, 110-metre hurdler Julz Adeniran feels he is within touching distance of realising one of his greatest dreams.
But a hour spent with the 23-year-old Birmingham-born athlete reveals that the actual hurdles he has to clear in this event are the least of his worries. In fact, he clocked up an impressive 7.71 seconds over 60 metres at the Aviva Grand Prix in Birmingham three months ago. This now ranks him as among the top five 60-metre hurdlers in the UK.
The real struggle for Adeniran, like other athletes in his position, is finding the funding to help him realise his Olympic dream – and he’s learned that he has to be a canny businessman as much as an athlete.
“It’s a real catch-22 situation you find yourself in when you are self-funded,” said Adeniran, who scooped a bronze medal at the UK Indoor Championships in Sheffield earlier this year. “In order to compete with the very best in the world you have to commit to an around-the-clock training regime. You simply don’t have enough time, energy or attention for a full-time job.”
His six days a week, six hours a day training regime speaks for itself. And that’s before he has tackled the cost of physiotherapy sessions, which he says is his single highest outlay.
“Oh, to have the luxury of your own personal physiotherapist like Usain Bolt,” smiles Adeniran, who is proud of the fact that his family roots also lie in Trelawny, Jamaica, like Bolt.
Step forward Blue Mountain Water, a Birmingham-based water cooler company that has pledged to be his first major sponsor.
IMPRESSIVE: Adeniran in actionIMPRESSIVE: Adeniran in action
The company’s managing director, Seymour Taylor, company director Nick Brown and the 25 staff have developed a strong rapport with Adeniran and welcomed him into their business ‘family.’
“It’s fantastic to have them on side,” says Adeniran. “Finding sponsors isn’t easy. I must have written to around 100 companies and a lot simply blank you. “It costs around £24,000 a year to cover food, rent, training and physiotherapy bills. Blue Mountain is my first sponsor and they have opened doors for me, but I am hoping to find six companies in all who can donate £4,000 each.”
Adeniran could have taken a much easier path in life away from the athletics track. He left the University of Birmingham in 2010 with a law degree and an impressive haul of British Universities Championships titles to go with it.
But he has decided office life can wait until he finishes chasing this particular Olympic dream, which does not end with 2012, as his sights are also set on the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow in 2014.
“When you’re striving to be the best in your field, whatever that is, there are always sacrifices you have to make,” he says. “And when you are training hard it’s all about recovery – today’s training session is only as good as yesterday’s recovery.”
From a single parent family, Adeniran affectionately describes his mum as his rock and says she has encouraged him every step of the way. She helped him through a traumatic car accident while he was at university, which almost cost him his athletic career.
When he is away from the track he acts as a mentor for the Dame Kelly Holmes Legacy Trust. Through the charity he is inspiring young people to get into sport as part of the Sport England Sportivate initiative. He is also involved in the ‘Summer of a Lifetime’ programme, which is run in partnership with Vinspired.
Adeniran will begin competing in the Olympic trials on June 24 at Birmingham Alexander Stadium.
n Julz Adeniran’s website: www.julzadeniran.com