Rhasidat Adeleke: "Maybe that comes down to me not knowing my limits yet."

Rhasidat Adeleke: "Maybe that comes down to me not knowing my limits yet."
Neasa Kennedy
Neasa Kennedy

Rhasidat Adeleke is nowhere near her peak in her athletics career.

In 2022, the 20-year-old athlete broke 5 Irish records; The indoor 60m, 200m and 300m and the outdoor 200m and 400m. In only her 6th race over 400m not only did she break a national record, she only narrowly missed out on a medal coming 5th in her debut Senior European Championships.

Carrying on this momentum, in the first 2 months of 2023 she has already recorded the fastest 400m by an Irish woman in history. Her time of 50.45 broke the record previously held by Karen Shinkins since 2022 by 1.13s.

Then just last week, the University of Texas broke this record again recording a time of 50.33, the 14th fastest indoor time on record.


"Each run gives me that confidence for the next performance because I know that with each run I'm dropping times, just waiting for that big drop. It makes me really excited each time I step on the track because it's always an opportunity to show what you've been working on."

Much attention is on Adeleke's domination of the 400m. It's hard to believe Adeleke has only been competing in the 400m for for less than 6 months and has already achieved such success.

"In my short span of training for it, I started training for it in October, to be able to run at times that I’ve ran this season has just really been an eye-opener for me."


She thrives in the 400m and the challenge of running a different race, but although there is a large focus on her 400m event, she is still not going to shy away from other events.

"When it gets to outdoors, I'm going dabble around in the 100m and 200m a bit more. Outdoors, I'm definitely looking forward to running the shorter events and seeing what I can do in those as well."

"I had done the 400 metres indoors just to try it out. I ran 52.3. Then outdoors, I ran two seconds faster. Outdoors gave me the opportunity to run freely. I'm really excited to see what I can do outdoors this year."

"Just to know that for that short period I’ve improved this much, it just makes me really excited to see what I can do when I’ve had a full year of support and training and then leading up to the Olympics, how much I can improve before that."

"I still have so much to learn about the event, how to even run it in a race and I still have so much strength to gain from the training. I’m definitely really excited and looking forward to it."

On sports scholarship in Texas, Adeleke credits her coach Edrick Foreal (Coach Flo) and the facilities available to her in Texas in her development as an athlete.

"He's absolutely amazing. We're so close. He really gives me advice in all areas. Regardless of the sporting relationship that we have. He's kind of like a father figure, if anything. I'm just really grateful. He recruited me with a plan and he had a vision. He knew what I was capable of, even when I didn't think I was capable of those things."

"It always reassured me that I am destined to be successful. He sees the potential that I have. He's always been real with me, always been honest, and he's so genuine - he would never kind of run me into the ground. If he doesn't think that something is beneficial for me, he won't put me in that direction."

"I know a lot of collegiate coaches, their main objective is the collegiate season and for the athletes to perform on the collegiate level and win championships, win team championships and score as many points as you can, just so they can get some more money in their pockets."

The climate she trains in now makes it easier for her to motivate herself and consequentially improve her performance.

"In Ireland, which is uncontrollable by anyone, the weather was always so cold."

"For sprinting you just want to be as productive as you could because you’d be all wrapped up and you wouldn’t be able to have full mobility while running and you just wouldn’t be able to reach full speed in case you got injured because your muscles weren’t full warmed up."

"Here it’s always really warm. In the winter it got a little bit cold but we have indoor facilities right by the school so we’re able to go train inside which wasn’t always accessible for athletes when we were in Ireland."

Currently Adeleke is competing in the NCAA Championships which she explains is "like the World Championships for all the best collegiate athletes in the US. The level here in the collegiate system is very, very high."

"I saw a tweet yesterday, and it was like it's harder to qualify for the NCAA Championships than it is for the World Championships indoors because they only take the top 16 in the country in each event."

"For example, the last time to get into the women's 60m is 7.20. That would probably get you into a semi-final at the World Indoor Championships or the European Indoor Championships. That's the last mark to qualify. It shows the depth of the athletes here. It's a very prestigious competition. It's something a lot of companies, brands look at. If you're trying to go pro, it's definitely one of the competitions that they're looking at. It's gives birth to a lot of stars."

Adeleke briefly held the fastest 400m in NCAA history before an hour later Talitha Diggs came through with a time of 50.15. Yet, Adeleke does not fear her, or anyone else for that matter.

"I think she's [Talitha Diggs] been doing the 400m since she was about 12. She has a lot of experience in the event. I don't necessarily see one person as my main rival. Anyone can have a great day and perform. I just try to focus on myself and what I can do. I can't control what anybody else runs. I can only control what I do."

The Tallaght AC athlete is a huge role model for younger kids. Her attitude is incredible and Adeleke credits her mother's sacrifices, bringing her training when she was younger, to her success. She also shares advice to young athletes saying;

"If a lot of people don’t reach their goals by the age of 15 or 16 or don’t see that progression, it’s a quick decision to say ‘this isn’t for me’. Everyone blooms at different stages, so I feel like just stay in the sport for as long as you can because you won’t realise when that drop is coming or when that time you’ve been chasing for so long is going to come."

"I definitely give advice to young girls to just always stay in the spot for as long as you can and just give it your all, and also have fun, don’t put too much pressure on yourself. I feel like that pressure  for performances, especially at a young age can be draining for athletes."

"Even if you just stay in the sport for the social aspect or the mental aspect, being in a sport can just take you away from your daily stresses and just give you a breather. Just even the social aspects, a lot of the friends that I have are athletes and people that I’ve meet at competitions or people that used to be athletes and they’re some of my closest friends today."

"Sports bring people from all walk of live together and you never know who you could meet, who could give you an internship, etc. I always try to advocate for that because there’s so many reasons to be in sport aside from spots performance and if it is for performance, really give yourself the best opportunity so you don’t have any regrets when you do leave."

The Her Sport WHOOP Young Athlete of the Year feels the support from Ireland even while living across the Atlantic, and it fuels her determination and ambition.

"I always get messages, especially when it comes to young girls, 'Oh, my niece joined an athletics club because of you'. Those little messages always get me going, and keep me motivated."

"Some people were actually messaging me, 'I got tickets for Paris for the Olympic final'. I'm like, 'Oh my God, you have so much faith in me. Let me make sure I make that Olympic final so you can get your money's worth for that ticket'. It just makes me so happy to see I bring joy to people."

This weekend marks the 2023 European Indoor Championships with some questioning whether Adeleke was going to be seen competing, but it was not a possibility for the sprinter this year.

"In the US, it's all very fast-paced. You do indoors and then you're straight into outdoors. Going to Istanbul to compete and potentially do three rounds of the 400m, and then get on a 12 - 15 hour flight back to Austin might have been detrimental to my season. We decided it was the best idea not to go."

Adeleke makes running the 400m look easy. The potential she possesses and the drive and belief she has means she is undoubtedly destined for extraordinary things.

"I was saying to my teammates yesterday, they were telling me how they feel after running a 400m and they were saying ‘oh yeah after running the 400m I can’t walk, I’m so tired’, and I was saying to them I never feel like that."

"Maybe that comes down to me not knowing my limits yet."

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