With exactly 85-days to the start of the 2012 London Olympics, Nigerian sprinter, Gloria Asumnu is relishing the multi-dimensional sporting fiesta. “It’ll be my first Olympic Games and I want it to be memorable, simply because it’s my first one and the work that I’ve put in this year alone.
It’s going to be exciting for myself and my family and the country of Nigeria. For all the athletes who are competing we just want to make sure we give our best efforts for what we can do.”
At the moment Gloria is taking her training week by week, focusing on what’s important.
In her words she is “staying healthy and keeping my body together so I can peak at the right time in order to give my best performance.”
She’s a little unsure whether that best performance will include the 200 metres.
“As of now yes. Right now my main focus is the 100 metres. My coach obviously wants me to run the 200 metres because he feels that I can run a good one. We’ll assess training (I’m training for both) after the Nigerian Championships. I’ll run both and we’ll make the decision going forward. The 100 is the primary focus, and with the 200 if we decide to do it then I’ll give 110 percent.”
The depth of talent in women’s sprinting in Nigeria means they are real contenders in the 100 metres relay, and competition will be fierce to gain one of the individual 100 metres spots.
“Just like Jamaica, Britain, the US and any other country there is always going to be more than one. It’s always going to be about who is prepared and who is ready to run. Anything can happen and we do have some strong ladies on the Nigerian team. I just wish everyone success and just want everyone to do well. At the end of the day as long as we do well, we do well for the country.”
The Olympics will be Gloria’s second major championships after the All Africa Games last year in Maputo.
“That was my first All-Africa Games and I really wasn’t prepared to compete there so I just went out there with barely any training and just competed. I’d had the whole issue with the IAAF and switching countries and getting clearance really late so I thought my season was actually done ahead of time.”
The preparation for the Olympics has been so much smoother with a successful indoor season behind her.
“Now because I know I’ve got clearance and am fine we just take things slower and do things day by day. We assess how my body feels and if it is a good day. You don’t run too many races and get tired out.”
“With switching coaches and going back to my first coach Garfield Ellenwood it’s preparation for outdoors for me. Its working on my block start, different things like drive phase transition, getting the first 60 down in order to move forward. We ran a few races here and there. It helps put together the 100.”
The plan for the coming season looks like being a measured lead up to the Olympics. Gloria says: “I currently have a schedule set up with three to four races before the Nigerian trials and then assess whether I need any races in-between. Maybe, few but not too many.”
With an Olympics on the horizon there are a lot of expectations and media pressure.
“With the Games being in London the country is expecting greatness from Nigeria and that’s fine. We’re the ones with the pressure, not you guys. If we all work together and come together in the correct way, then we can all smile at the end of the day.”
“As athletes we have to stay clear of the media because they’ll rip you apart in any sport on any level in any country, particularly Nigeria. They’re known to not really have the facts before they start writing.”
Despite the pressure, Gloria says “life is fun. A lot of people don’t know that I’m a mother first and so with or without track I still have a daughter so that is first and foremost.
The fact that I’ve chosen to move away and train is tough but it’s the life I’ve chosen to make for this year but life is fun. I’m a regular girl. I like clothes, I like to shop, I love to read, and I like movies. I just do regular things like a regular person to keep myself calm, not stressed and not just track, track, track.”