YOUNG Irish sprint sensation Rhasidat Adeleke is already fielding approaches from several American universities, looking to secure her on scholarship even though she is still only 16.
The six-foot Dublin teenager who won 100/200m double gold at the European Youth Olympics (EYOF) in Baku a fortnight ago is part of the Irish senior team travelling to Norway today (Wed) for the European Team Championships (August 9-11), where she will just compete as part of a 4x100m relay team.
On her return she starts her Leaving Cert year in Presentation Community College, Terenure on August 29 which is also, coincidentally, her 17th birthday.
Adeleke’s prodigious success so far means she is already being offered college scholarships from home and abroad, including some from prestigious US universities.
She won the European Youths (U18) 200m title last year when she was only 15 and was also part of the Irish 4x100m team that won relay silver at World Juniors (U20s) in 2018.
The first sign of her prodigious talent was her 200m silver at the EYOF two years ago when she was only 14.
The Tallaght AC star has not yet made any decisions about her college future but revealed that America has already come calling and she is trying to keep an open mind.
“I will probably stay in Dublin but I’ll have to see. It’s all been a bit of a blur,” she admitted at the launch of Dublin City Council’s Sportsfest 2019.
“I feel like America could be a bit of a risk but it’s quite hard to judge from what other people say or seeing pictures so I might actually go over and check stuff out and might change my mind.”
Universities in Texas, Los Angeles and Kentucky, which are all sprint specialists, would be her preference if she was to take the USA scholarship route.
Several have already contacted her by text or email and she simply refers them to her mother: “I notify my mum and just text them saying ‘here’s my mum’s number’.”
Adeleke’s outstanding underage success already adds heavy expectations on her young shoulders and the EYOF noticeably did not attract any entries from Britain, one of Europe’s biggest sprint powers.
Her next big target is the World Juniors (U20s) in Kenya in July 2020.
“It will be my first time competing at World level individually but I won’t let that get to me. Pressure is a good thing, it means that you’re up there so you just use it to perform.
“I am actually looking forward to it,” she added. “Seeing the whole vibe, with the Jamaicans, Americans and Australia at World Juniors last year, that just made me strive for success. Getting an individual medal at that would be unreal.”
She said she won’t be intimidated by the step-up to World level in 2020, saying: “When you get the (qualifying) standard just the same as every other athlete from every other country you know you belong there.”
Adeleke, Dublin hurler Conal Keaney, Bohemians midfielder Keith Buckley and Dublin Lord Mayor Paul McAuliffe came together to launch the #ThisIsMyDublin campaign for Dublin City Sportfest on September 23-29.
This multi-sport event, first organised by Dublin City Sport and Wellbeing Partnership in 2018, promotes participation in a wide range of sports, regardless of age, ability or background.
It includes existing initiatives like The Great Dublin Bike Ride, Park Run and The Daily Mile with new tailored special events for schools, women, families and senior citizens.
See www.dublincity.ie/sportsfest for further details.
To see the full #ThisIsMyDublin Video Series, check out the playlist below: