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New kid on the blocks

YOUNG STAR: Bolarinwa

EVEN THOUGH track and field competitor David Bolarinwa is still a teenager, the 100m and 200m sprinter has medals galore to his name and is rightfully revered by his peers.

In 2010 he captured a bronze medal at the Youth Olympics in Singapore, the following year he won gold and a bronze in the 200m and 100m at the European Junior Championships in Estonia and he has picked up a multitude of national titles too.

Reminiscing on how his meteoric rise in the sport first began, the 19-year-old from southeast London told the Voice of Sport: “I started aged 14. Basically I was just a young kid playing football and one day my P.E teacher just said ‘I think you’re better off doing athletics’. I went to my local track in Eltham and from then on I just started getting faster and faster and everything just went on from there.”

Thinking back to when he realised he had the potential to become a full-time athlete, he continued: “Probably my first year in athletics in 2008 when I went to the nationals and I medalled there even though I did not do a lot of training. I was like ‘Wow, I can actually do this, I’m actually quite fast if I’m on Sky Sports’ at that kind of age. But that’s when I thought I’ve actually got a shot.”

The European Under-23 Championships in Finland on July 11-14 will be among Bolarinwa’s main priorities this season and he has fond memories of European glory, having medalled there at the junior level two years ago.

“That’s a funny one because I only qualified for the 200m two weeks before that because I didn’t have the qualifying time. I had the qualifying time for the 100m so it was kind of like ‘Wow…ok. Let’s go do the 200m just in case things don’t really go right,’” he explained.

HEADING IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION: The southeast Londoner competing at the 2010 Youth Games

“The final was actually the day after the 100m so it was like ‘Wow, I can’t believe I actually won the 200m only qualifying two weeks before. It was crazy. It was an amazing experience as well because it was a gold medal at the Europeans and I was the bottom year of that Under-20s so I was 17, everyone was 18 or 19 and I still won so I was happy with that.”

Having achieved international honours in the 100m and 200m, when asked what distance he likes more, the Nigerian-born Greenwich native winces slightly, suggesting that it is a close call between the two.


“I’m not too sure,” he said. “I prefer the 100m because it’s short and over and done with but then again I like the 200m because you’ve got time to really move through the race and for me, I get going quite late and my starts aren’t always that good so the 200m is convenient but the 100m is what I really love.”

Another world-class sprinter who was known for not being the greatest out of the blocks was 1996 Olympic gold medallist Donovan Bailey and it is for that same reason why Bolarinwa has a lot of admiration for the Jamaica-born Canadian.

“For me my favourite athlete would probably have to be Donovan Bailey just because of the way he would have a bad start and still would be able to catch up with the guys, move past them and still win. 1996 at the Olympics in Atlanta, that was probably one of my favourite races to watch.”

BRIGHT FUTURE: The 19-year-old is ready for action

Outside of athletics Bolarinwa plans to study business management at the University of Hertfordshire where he faces the tricky task of balancing training with the every day tribulations that university life brings, but he insists that he will rise above the challenge.

“Throughout my GCSEs and A-Levels I’ve been balancing the two for a long time. This is the first year where I’ve just had athletics on my mind. Hopefully I can continue to balance it in the right way in the next three years that I’m at uni.”

And if you happen to see Bolarinwa struggling at the beginning of a race, fear not, as he is literally just getting started.

He added: “I give 100 per cent in every race. When it comes to the end of the race that’s when I start moving so I’m just going for the line. I don’t give up; I’m always the guy that gives it everything. I don’t like to lose.”

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