Israel Olatunde: “I’m ready to go out there and show what I can do”

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2022 has been a record-breaking year for Israel Olatunde.

The UCD student got off to a flying start running a national U23 60m record back in February of 6.62s, just 0.01s off Paul Hession’s senior record.

Olatunde then headed to Belgrade for the World Indoors where he performed respectably to just miss out on a semi-final spot.

His outdoor season began with a bang in May in Belfast when he ran a new personal best of 10.35s. Since then, his performances have continued to improve culminating in a 10.24s clocking at the National U23 Championships in Tullamore last month.

Olatunde now heads to Munich for the European Athletics Championships next week where he will run in the 100m and 4x100m relay. The prospect of competing on the big stage again is something that he relishes.

I’m really excited to be getting ready to compete at the European Championships,” Olatunde says.

“I’ve been at a few senior championships, but this is my first outdoor senior championship.

“I’m a competitor at heart and I guess championships are the best place to compete. I’m really looking forward to taking on the best in Europe.”

Olatunde has had such an excellent season, but he is keen to downplay expectations, although he admits he doesn’t fear any of his rivals.

“I’m just here to compete,” he says. “I don’t know where that’s going to leave me, I just want to go out there and put in my best performance.

“I’m not scared of anyone really; I’ve only lost one race this outdoor season and I’ve raced against some fast guys.”

The 20-year-old from Dundalk hasn’t been on the start line since last month’s AAI Games in Tullamore but has been working hard alongside coach Daniel Kilgannon to ensure he is in the best possible shape heading to the Bavarian capital.

“After my last race, I just decided to kind of go back into the stable and just get some quality work in. I feel as good as ever, I feel really good going into this championship and confident in my abilities.

“At this stage of the season all of the hard work has been done. The main thing is just getting the body feeling right, feeling fresh, and feeling fast. That’s what we’ve been focusing on over the last few weeks.

“I’m ready to go out there and show what I can do.”

Israel Olatunde to lead relay team

Olatunde will spearhead the Irish team in the 4x100m relay. Mark Smyth, Joseph Ojewumi, Colin Doyle, Leon Reid, and Marcus Lawler join him in the squad. The Irish team just managed to make the championships at the final opportunity and are looking forward to racing with little expectations.

“It was a pretty tough journey for us to qualify.

“I guess the pressures off a little bit, we will just go out there and do what we can do. It kind of shows that Irish male sprinters are going in the right direction, having a team at the European Championships,” he adds.

“We’re all excited for the opportunity, looking forward to representing and just showing other sprinters that this is possible. We deserve to be on this stage.”

Israel Olatunde has come a long way since he started out in the sport as a first-year student in St. Mary’s Dundalk but also has an incredibly bright future ahead of him. Munich will be another step forward in his exciting and captivating career.

“I never really thought that I’d be at this stage of my career so quickly.

“Fourteen-year-old Israel would be very proud of where I am right now.

“I’m definitely not done yet.”

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