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Sprinter describes his Olympic experience, dishes on future goals

Keeton Wilcock | Fulcrum Contributor

Photo courtesy of Segun Makinde 

FIRST THINGS FIRST, Segun Makinde had a blast representing Canada at the 2012 Summer Olympics. While the fourth-year University of Ottawa marketing student had his share of ups and downs in London, in an interview with the Fulcrum it was immediately evident that Makinde’s experience at the Games was a positive one.

“The people were really nice, they were really supportive, and the crowd was amazing, especially in the main stadium,” recalled Makinde. “They created a really good atmosphere for performing and it showed.”

Makinde, 21, also noted that things like dining and accommodations can impact one’s experience at meets and competitions. In both areas the London organizers had it covered. He said that the cafeteria-style setup with foods from around the world was a great idea, and he gushed about the superb living arrangements in the athletes’ village.

“I found it was absolutely amazing; it was a lot of fun, the residences were incredible in the village,” stated Makinde. “I noticed there were a lot of distractions and things though. I think it’s easier to get distracted in the village than just going outside of it because there’s a lot going on. But the village was absolutely amazing.”

And of course, there’s the incredible feeling you get when you know you’re one of the elite competitors representing your country at the world’s premier sporting event. All in all, the 2012 Olympics was a pretty cool experience in Makinde’s eyes.

But it wasn’t all high notes. For instance, although Makinde was selected to be part of Team Canada as a member of the men’s 4x100M relay team, those who followed the competition closely might remember that he wasn’t one of the four sprinters running a leg of the race. More than four runners travelled as part of the relay team, and coach Glenroy Gilbert selected who would run just prior to the races.

“It’s based on team chemistry and experience,” said Makinde of the selection process. “I think those things are the big issues for who goes on the track and who’s ready to go on the track. Also, injuries. People get injured too.”

Makinde said that while it was disappointing not to run in London, he respects Gilbert’s decision and knows that it was in the best interest of the team.

“Of course as an athlete I wanted to compete, I wanted to go out and run, but at the same time it’s not about me,” Makinde said. “It’s about the team. So whatever I can do to help the team is essentially what I want to do. If it means that I’m not running, it means that I’m not running.”

Instead, Makinde was trackside to witness the thriller finale of the men’s 4×100 race where Canada, though an underdog, managed to power through to a surprising bronze medal finish. That is, until a judge noticed that Canadian sprinter Jared Connaughton stepped on the lane line. The team was disqualified.

“It was just heartbreak,” recalled Makinde of the moment the disqualification was announced. “In sports, unfortunately rules are rules and you have to take that stuff. We know that that’s part of what comes with signing up for track and field at the Olympics.”

While Canada appealed the ruling, arguing that no competitive advantage was gained, the disqualification stood. Despite the mistake, Makinde is proud of his relay team and the entire Canadian team’s showing at the Summer Games.

“They did a debrief at the end and compared it to past championships,” Makinde explained of the Canadian squad’s performance. “This was probably one of the best teams that I’ve been a part of. It was really positive. Especially looking forward to four years in Rio [de Janeiro]. I think for the Canadian team the goals were achieved.”

And Makinde is absolutely setting his sights on the 2016 Olympics in Brazil, stating that his goals are high and meeting them requires planning.

“I expect to hopefully be on the podium,” said the sprinter of the Rio Games. “In a few events, not just in relay. Yes, with the relay, but the hope is to come home with more than one medal in 2016. That’s what I’m working for.”

Before that happens, Makinde will have to finish up his undergraduate degree with the Telfer School of Management, whose faculty members he’s thankful to for being so accommodating to him throughout his studies. Then the focus is back on the track, where Makinde hopes to improve his times and be a threat on the world stage for years to come. If things go just right, the 2012 Olympic Games will have been just the beginning.