Rhasidat Adeleke’s younger brother Abdullahi hopes to step into her big shoes

Rhasidat Adeleke’s younger brother Abdullahi hopes to step into her big shoes

Budding sprinter Abdullahi Adeleke was the proudest boy in Tallaght this week as his big sister Rhasidat cemented her status as the golden girl of Irish athletics, winning three medals at the European Athletic Championships.

Over the weekend, Abdullahi kickstarted his bid to replicate his sister’s glittering sporting achievements when he and his three teammates took gold in the Under17s 4 x 100m relay final at the Dublin Athletics Championships.

Abdullahi (14) is the youngest of three children born to Ade and Prince Adeleke, Nigerian immigrants who settled in the south Dublin suburb after travelling to Ireland to make better lives for themselves.

Eldest sister Lati was a noted shot-putter at Tallaght Athletics Club, where Rhasidat (21) spent her formative years developing her sprinting before earning a college scholarship in Texas.

“I watched the races live when Rhasidat was at the finals in Rome over the past few days,” says Abdullahi. “I was with my sister and the guys on the team watching the races. We were all happy in the house, screaming her on.

“I spoke to her on the phone afterwards, asked her how she was and how she felt after winning her race, her gold one.”

Despite the media attention on his sister’s sporting achievements this week, Abdullahi has had his distractions besides preparing for the final on Friday – the same day he finished his Junior Cert.

“Hopefully, I got a few distinctions,” he says, smiling.

But, Rhasidat’s success has also been uppermost in his thoughts in recent days – besides her gold medal in the mixed relay she also won silver in the individual 400m and another silver in the 400m relay.

“Everyone in Tallaght is asking me ‘are you proud of her?’ and stuff like that. Of course I am, we all are,” he says.

“We are all excited now for the Olympics in Paris next month, where we hope she will bring home some medals from there too.

“The last time I saw her was when I went to America for her graduation. That was last month. I had been to America before, to see her run in the World Championships.”

Abdullahi is the youngest on his team.

“I’ve been running since I’ve been 10 years old. I do the 100 and 200 metres” he says.

“I ran the 100 and 200 (individual) finals last week. I came second in the 100 and second in the 200. I also do a bit of basketball, a bit of football as well.”

He is quite focused in his response when asked what his future in athletics hopes are.

“I hope to make the Olympics, make the Europeans and, hopefully, win a championship or a medal,” he exclaims.

Cecil Johnston has been a coach in Tallaght AC for more than 25 years, specialising in mainly middle-distance running.

Cecil says that he is thrilled at Rhasidat’s success.

“She comes back to Tallaght as often as she can,” he says. “It’s rare these days as she’s in Texas and her focus is on the Olympics.

“It should be highlighted that there is only one other 21-year-old that has run faster than Rhasidat.

“The last time a 21-year-old ran faster than her was Sanye Richards-Ross of the USA in 2006, who ran 48.70. If you look at the ages of the others, none are younger than 24.

“She is certainly going in the right direction, from being ninth in the world in 2022, and then at the European Championships in Germany she was fifth in the 400.

“Then last year fourth in the world final, then to get silver in the European stage was fantastic. I suppose the main target is the Olympics and there are only two other athletes who’ve run faster than her this year, so I’d put my money on her being on the podium.”

Rhasidat was coached at the club by Daniel Kilgallon, who also coaches the men’s 4x100m national team and star sprinter Israel Olatunde, who’s Ireland’s fastest man.

“I was coached by Tony Byrne, who passed away just a few weeks ago,” adds Alanna.

“He coached me from age 10 and I was in the club for years. Then I moved to the States, I came back. I had kids of my own, and I wanted to bring them to Tallaght to run I was there for two years just bringing my kids down and they asked me ‘Why don’t you come on board and learn about coaching’ and I’ve been doing that the last six years.

“I used to be out on the track when I was young, doing nationals. I was quite good at the high jump and shot-put, but I was also not bad on the track.”

Alanna opens up more about Rhasidat’s history with the club.