Part of our Young Athlete series, Steve Roe hears from talented sprinter Isio Orogun and her coach Alan Champion
Being aged only 14 doesn’t mean Isio Orogun cannot express herself forcefully on the drug scandal that rocked the world of athletics this summer.
“It’s shameful,” Isio said of the alleged offences committed by Tyson Gay and Asafa Powell. Furthermore, she believes drug cheats should be hit hard – “with an immediate lifetime ban.”
These matters are a little harder for Isio to bear since, like the suspended superstars alluded to, she is also a sprinter.
Isio is the 200m English Schools champion and in the event at Birmingham certainly did not hold back. Not content with simply qualifying for the final, she ran hard to win her heat easily and followed that no less determinedly with another comfortable victory in the semi-final.
Despite knowing the final would be tougher – “because on paper some of the other girls were quicker than me” – she clinched the gold medal. Isio has in fact won 35 races in 2013. It’s a statistic to bring a wry smile to the face of Alan Champion. He is her coach but recalls almost turning her away when she first appeared for a training session with Dartford Harriers.
“It could have been the biggest mistake of my coaching career,” says Champion now of telling Isio to join another training group and only relenting after watching her run a few laps. Now her coach has a firm belief the south London-born athlete will be a realistic contender for a place in next year’s IAAF World Junior Championships in Eugene, Oregon.
“There is no reason why she can’t make it internationally,” he says. At what distance, one wonders, because Isio is the Kent under-15 schools champion for 100m and county champ at both 200m and 300m. “It’s difficult to say which is my favourite,” says the teenager.
“What I will say is that initially I hated 300s, but had I not done them I wouldn’t have had the strength for the 200m.” Isio can also recall that a 300m race last March was one of the few disappointments of her career so far.
“I finished first in the Kent indoor championships with 42.36. It would have been a championship best performance, but I was disqualified for taking a stride out of my lane.”
Because of her phlegmatic nature, Isio did not dwell too long on missing out. “I just had to accept it,” she says. So quickly resuming training – and winning – she set her sights on that coveted English Schools title. At the Alexander Stadium to revel in her success were members of the Orogun family – mum, dad, brother, sister – and a more than delighted coach.
“I was ecstatic,” says Champion. “It’s always good to see a committed athlete get just reward and especially one like Isio, who puts 110% into everything she does.”
Sporting success is something of a family tradition. Her elder sister, Naomi, won a Kent Schools 300m hurdles title last year, her younger brother is a promising footballer and the family is distantly related to Nigeria’s Moscow world 200m and long jump medallist Blessing Okagbare.
You can find further performance stats on Isio on Power of 10 here.
» Brooks Sports are delighted to sponsor Young Athlete and are keenly working with Athletics Weekly to showcase some of Britain’s talented youngsters. The young athlete featured each week receives a Podium long sleeve T-shirt, emblazoned with the Brooks and Athletics Weekly logos. Support junior athletics via the Ron Pickering Memorial Fund, see rpmf.org.uk.