An Exclusive Interview with an Emerging
“PRINCESS OF THE TRACK” OLUWABUKOLA PEREIRA, A LONG DISTANT SPRINTER WHO IS MAKING WAVES AND STRONG STATEMENT IN THIS ASECT.
By Chief Wasiu Kazeem & Ajibson Azeez
QUESTION: What attracted you to athletics out all sports?
ANSWER: I am naturally attracted to running as a child but basically I was drawn into it because of a friend who boasted around because of her sprint strength during my primary school days and I was determined to challenge her, which I did.
Question: when did you start participating in well organized competition?
Answer: It was in 2008 at my school inter-house sports. I attended Epetedo high school, formerly known as Hope High School in Lagos Island.
Question: when was your debut at international competition?
Answer: It was at the economic community of West Africa State Game (ECOWAS GAME) which was heid in Ghana in 2012, although, it was not all that impressive because I came 4th in 5, 0000 metres.
Question: Did you have a formal training or a personal trainer?
Answer: Yes and No, during my primary school days, no, but I won gold medal in my secondary school in one of the competitions which I participated in and that was when God first smile on me because Lagos State picked me to represent her at National Under 18 Obafemi Awolowo Games which was held at llaro in Ogun State.
Question: How many laurels or medals did you have in kitty since your debut in both local and international competitions?
Answer: I have a lot, but I hope I would not mix it up. Let me start at the home front because they say “charity begins at home”. I have 3 gold and 3 silver medals to my credit in competitions organized by the athletics federation of Nigeria which is called golden league. Again, in 2009, won gold medal in a marathon sponsored by Lagos Airport Hotel with a price of a ticket to Turkey but I came second in NNPC Mobil track and field event of June/July 2012. I also came 3rd in Power Pasta marathon which was held in portharcourt, rivers state on the 26th of October, 2013. Similarly, I won silver in a marathon sponsored by Nike which was tagged “We run Lagos” in November 2013, I won silver medal in another marathon organized by Lucozade Sports. Before I forget, I also participated in Obudu Mountain Race of 2011 where I finished 11th Nigeria because now at the international Arena, I won two silver medals at a competition organized by Confederation Africaine Athletsm also called TGOURNO’JUNIOC CEDEAO which was held at Abidjan in 3,000 and 1,100 metres respectively. I also won gold medal in Accra international marathon (Lokun race) which was in Ghana, I came 4th in (5,000) meters but I set a new best personal record of 16 minutes, 46 seconds.
Question: As a young girl full of potentials, did you ever dream of becoming Queen of the track like Mary Onyali, Falilat Ogunkoya, Chioma Anjuwon and other?
Answer: Absolutely Yes. In fact I’m aiming to be in the next Olympic Games in Rio, Brazil by special the grace of God.
Question: What are the constraints of challenges you are facing that could hinder the realization of your dreams?
Answer: We don’t have enough sport facility in Lagos, for instance, the track of National Stadium is bad, though Teslim Balogun is a bit okay. No free access to gymnastic facilities because we have to pay money and we are not collecting stipends let alone salary from any organisation.
Question: How do you think philanthropists with hearts in sports in sport particularly athletics or even corporate organizations and assist you?
Answer: They will be doing us a lot of favour by organizing and bringing up competitions on regular basis and attach tangible monetary value and gifts, because that is the only source of income we have. Personally, I am looking forward to a God-sent or Good Samaritan who can give us scholarship to study abroad so that I can be exposed to international facilities and at the end of the day I will be a source of pride to Nigeria in particular and Africa in general.
Question: Considering the age you started and the available of laurels to your credit, did your parents support the choice of your profession from the beginning or are they sport enthusiasts?
Answer: Yes, they fully supported me. Infact, I can say I am from a sporting family, because up till now, my mother still plays table tennis and my daddy was a footballer. So they are sport enthusiast and that gives me advantage. However, because of my request for money from them most times, they would say “se ojojumo lo fe ma lo si stadium for training every day? Permit me to pay tribute to my coach, Mr Rauf Abass who is also my backbone.