AW speaks with Divine Oladipo – a young thrower with high hopes

Having retained her English Schools intermediate shot put title in July, 16-year-old Divine Oladipo is channelling all her energy into producing her best at the Commonwealth Youth Games in Samoa this month.

The Blackheath & Bromley Harrier is no stranger to national success. Last year she won English Schools, England Athletics under-17 and UK School Games events and thoroughly enjoyed pulling on her national kit for the first time when she represented England schools at the SIAB Schools International in Cardiff.

“To represent my country is an amazing opportunity and words alone cannot describe it,” she says. “I also got to meet new people, not only from my own team but also from other countries like Ireland and Wales. However, the best thing was gaining my first ever English vest and being able to wear it with pride. It really gives you a sense of accomplishment.”

The ambitious athlete has been relatively pleased with her 2015 season so far. In addition to her English Schools triumph, she also claimed England Athletics under-17 indoor silver and extended her PB with the 3kg shot to 15.37m to top the UK age-group rankings. However, she adds: “I missed so many sessions due to GCSE exams that I didn’t get in the amount of training I wanted to and I think because of that I was unable to qualify for the World Youths. However, hopefully there will be other opportunities to earn the GB vest. With exams over now, I hope to increase the distance a bit further.”

In Samoa, Divine is aiming to improve her PB in her first major international championships. “I want to at least get a PB and fingers crossed, make it into the final,” she says.

“I also throw the discus and would like to throw further in that event too,” she adds, speaking of her 45.63m PB, which places her 12th on the UK age-group rankings.

Although she is the London Schools county champion in shot and discus and last year’s Southern shot and discus champion, there is no questioning Divine’s favourite event. “I definitely prefer the shot,” she says. “It was the first throwing event I took to and I got the hang of it much quicker. I think the discus is fun to look at and the smooth movements are intriguing, but the explosive power that a shot putter can produce is really something special. I think I will always do both, though.”

It is clear Divine is a talent in good hands. Coached by the experienced John Hillier at Sutcliffe Park in Eltham, she trains alongside last year’s British shot champion Scott Rider, Commonwealth Games hammer thrower Shaunaugh Brown and English Schools discus champion Georgie Taylor.

However, Divine is quick to credit her first athletics coach, Mick Bond, who encouraged her to change to throwing from sprinting, and her previous throws coach, Peter Wilshart. “We all remain one big throws family training together,” she says.

Divine’s biggest aim is to be sponsored by Nike in the future. “All my clothes are Nike,” she says, justifying her wish.

You can find further performance stats on Divine on Power of 10 here.

» Support young athletes via the Ron Pickering Memorial Fund, see rpmf.org.uk