Studying computer science in UCD, Israel Olatunde, at the age of just 19 has burst onto the Irish athletics scene. Last week, Olatunde topped his previous under-23 60m record, setting a time of 6.64 seconds.
The College Tribune spoke to Olatunde who said it is ‘really exciting to get my season off to such a great start and to see the work I put in over the winter pay off.’ Despite the achievement, however, Olatunde was not getting ahead of himself and he added ‘I’m going to take things one day at a time and focus on what I need to do to improve and get faster.’
Earlier this month Olatunde had set a new under-23 record with a time of 6.67 seconds. On Sunday, he extended his record even further with a personal best of 6.64 seconds in the second round of the national indoor league in Athlone. The time puts the UCD athlete closer to the senior 60m record set in 2007 by Paul Hession at 6.61 seconds which Olatunde said is ‘definitely in my sights.’
This is not Olatunde’s first time impressing on the Irish athletics scene. Last June he became the Irish senior 100m champion in Morton Stadium, Santry earning a personal best of 10.49 seconds. He ran for Tallaght Athletics Club before joining UCD.
Olatudne spoke about his time in UCD so far. He said ‘being in an environment with Olympians and other world-class athletes is a blessing.’ He added that ‘knowing I represent UCD and the Ad Astra Academy encourages me to take my performance to the next level.’
The record-breaking run kicks off what is a very important season for Olatunde. Now he is targeting the world indoor championships in March and the European championships in August. The races and records are not distracting Olatunde, however. He said his target for 2022 is ‘to run fast and gain valuable experiences’ in what is his first season in the senior ranks.
Conor Paterson – Co-Editor