Rhasidat Adeleke’s record-breaking 400m run a ‘proud moment’, says mother

The principal of her former secondary school said the sprinter is a ‘role model’ to students there

The mother of Rhasidat Adeleke has spoken of the “proud moment” when her 19-year-old daughter broke the Irish 400-metre record on the European stage on Wednesday.

Speaking from Munich, where she is accompanying Rhasidat while she continues to compete in the European Athletics Championships, Ade Adeleke said she has God to thank for her daughter. “I give God all of the glory… It is by God’s glory that she can live her dreams.”

She added: “I am proud for her to fly the Irish flag… All of the Irish fans — I really appreciate them for their support”

Wednesday’s record and fifth-place finish come off the back of years of hard work, said Ms Adeleke, although she noted Rhasidat was disappointed she did not win a medal in her record-breaking race.


“I am delighted for her anyway,” she added.

Ms Adeleke recalled when Rhasidat was aged 12 and a primary school teacher spotted her talent as exceptional. It was then that Rhasidat registered with Tallaght Athletics Club, and began training in everything from cross-country running to the long jump.

The athlete was always an “ambitious girl” who worked hard at her education and sporting endeavours.

It helped that athleticism runs in the family. Ms Adeleke used to be a competitive long jumper and ran 100-metre races, but, she said, she was “not as good as” her daughter, who is competing internationally.

Ms Adeleke has made it her mission to support her daughter’s sporting endeavours. “Everywhere she is going I’m going with her. I’m always by her side.”

The sprinter is a “huge role model” to the students at her former secondary school, Presentation Community College in Terenure, said principal Áine Mulderrig.

Ms Mulderrig said she continues to keep track of Rhasidat’s racing, and the school is “extremely” proud of her achievements.

“Time after time she has shown fantastic dedication and time management and everything needed to get to that level of performance,” she said.

It was clear she was a “gold medallist” from when she was aged 13 and competing in 100- and 200-metre races. Rhasidat also excelled at basketball during her early teen years, but the principal recalled that the sport was demoted later so she could focus on athletics.

Teachers at the school had high expectations of the student from “day one″, and she went on to win sports star of the year nearly every year, said Ms Mulderrig, adding: “You couldn’t not give it to her. She swept the board.”

Adeleke will compete in the women’s 4x400-metre relay later this week.

Ellen O'Riordan

Ellen O'Riordan

Ellen O'Riordan is an Irish Times reporter