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By Itohan Barlow
Danielle Alakija, is the youngest Olympian competing in the London 2012 games. She is model tall, strikingly beautiful and extremely confident for a 16 year old. Although her parents are British, they have Nigerian roots. She was born in England, lived in Fiji for 14 years and now trains and studies in the West Coast of the United States of America. At the age of 7, Danni says she had a dream that she was competing in a race in a big stadium in a cold city. And now 9 years later, she has qualified to compete in the 2012 Olympics running the Women’s 400 and the 200 meters. She is one part of the ten person Fiji team that will be in London representing Fiji at the Games.
She has been given an opportunity to train at the Lea Valley Athletic centre in Edmonton in London ahead of the games, meaning she has been preparing for the games alongside world and Olympic Champions. She says, “much of her training and preparation has been about learning to perform in a high pressure environment and compete at the highest level”. Her personal best times going into the Olympics this month are 24.32 seconds on the 200m and 55seconds in the 400m. Impressively, Her trainer is Maurice green, four time Olympic medalist and 5 time world champion. But to anyone who thinks athletics is all that’s on Danni Alakija’s mind, don’t be fooled. This young lady sees herself being a successful lawyer in the next 10 years a well as being a world-class athlete. She is also passionate about film and photography.
When asked about being able to balance her studies and athletics, Danielle says, “It is really about time management, focusing on my priorities and keeping away from distraction. I’ve learned to catch up quickly on things that need to get done, and as long as I stick to my priorities, things usually work like clockwork”. There is a certain level of focus and dedication required when training at the level that Danielle Alakija competes on and although she is optimistic about the games she is also realistic and knows that as a first time Olympian, her first Olympics will be a “knee trembling” moment and so she is keen to learn as much as she can using whatever knowledge and experience she accrues to help her prepare for Rio 2016.
Facts about Danielle Alakija
She says her parents; Ricki and Yodi Alakija are her heroes.
She loves Jollof rice
She coaches children with disabilities in Athletics and has a coaching certificate
She LOVES shoes
She was involved in a Haiti relief mission collecting backpacks filled with stationary and then distributing them personally to under privileged children in tent cities in Haiti.
“Never give up on your dreams, no matter how big they are. Whether we are winning or losing, the important thing is to learn something that inspires us to keep moving” - Danielle Alakija
She is a wonderful role model for young people everywhere who dare to dream big.
Follow Danielle’s progress during the games @daniellealakija
Images copyright of Tuni Barlow