Paralympic bronze medal winner hopes to change the mindset of a nation
Sprinter Ola Abidogun hopes the nation will be inspired by the performance of Paralympics GB
Ilford-born Ola Abidogun won a thrilling sprint bronze medal last week and hopes his performance – and that of his Paralympic peers – can change the attitude of the nation.
The 19-year-old clocked 11.23 seconds to take third place in the T46 100 metres final in front of a capacity crowd inside the Olympic Stadium and a nationwide television audience of millions.
His chances of a place on the podium appeared to have gone midway through the race, as the leaders pulled clear.
But a powerful finish saw him sneak into the bronze medal position, as he crossed the line 0.08 seconds ahead of fourth-placed Suwaibidu Galadima from Nigeria.
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And Abidogun, who was born without his right forearm, believes the Paralympic message should extend beyond the track, swimming pool and velodrome and into the everyday lives of people nationwide.
“The message I’d like people to take away is that the public care,” Abidogun said. “No matter what happens you have people behind you, whether it’s eight or 80,000 they want you to do the best you possibly can do.
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“Whether you’re a regular guy sat behind your desk in an office or an athlete competing in a stadium, there are people pushing you to achieve more.
“You can achieve anything if you’re determined enough. I was determined to win a medal. I didn’t think I would halfway through the race, but my brain clicked in and I felt like I could do it.
“I’d like my performance to inspire people, not to achieve what I’ve done, but to be better than me.
“As long as people try to be better than someone else then they will always look to improve, get quicker and stronger, so I’d like people to better me rather than try and be like me.”
Abidogun, a two-time world junior champion, moved from Essex to Bolton with his family in 2005 – the year London was confirmed as the host city for the Olympic and Paralympic Games.
But, despite having relocated north and developed a Lancashire accent, Abidogun insists he felt right at home back in east London.
“Being in the Stadium was comfortable, because this is London, this is where I grew up,” he said.
“Despite the fact I don’t live here anymore I still think of this as home and the crowd as part of my family and they spurred me on.
“They made me feel at home and happy and that I had what it took to win a medal.
“I feel satisfied. Considering I had two events and I had medal prospects in both I feel that I’ve achieved something.
“I’ve only been on the programme for four years. I’m still pretty young and hopefully have many years of competing in major championships ahead of me.”