Having made his Commonwealth Games debut this year in Birmingham for Team England, Emmanuel Oyinbo-Coker became the Commonwealth champion after winning Gold in the Men’s T45-47 100m race. In June, Emmanuel competed at the British Athletics Championships, winning Bronze in the 100m, and his other achievements have included Gold in the World Para Athletics Grand Prix in Dubai and Silver in Paris. Before the pandemic, Emmanuel was part of a SportsAid event with Catherine, Princess of Wales (then Duchess of Cambridge) alongside Olympian Jessica Ennis-Hill. Emmanuel trains with Newham & Essex Beagles and Loughborough Students and is hoping to compete at numerous events next year such as the Müller Indoor Grand Prix and the Birmingham Diamond League. We chatted to Emmanuel about becoming the Commonwealth champion in Birmingham this year, winning Bronze at the British Athletics Championships and attending a SportsAid event alongside Jessica Ennis-Hill and Catherine, Princess of Wales.
How did you find the experience making your Commonwealth Games debut this year in Birmingham and how was it being selected for Team England?
I was really happy to be selected, I worked very hard this year and it paid off. The vibes in the village leading up to the Games was amazing, I met loads of different athletes and shared experiences with them, everyone was very friendly.
What did you enjoy most about competing at a home Commonwealth Games and what was the atmosphere like at the Alexander Stadium?
I think the crowd was the most enjoyable thing at the Games, they were loud and supportive and it made me feel at home, and the fact that I had over 15 family members attend was very encouraging, I was approached by some fans too and took some pictures with a few of them, it really made me feel like a superstar.
How did you feel winning Gold in the Men’s T45-47 100m and what was it like receiving your medal?
I felt really proud to be in that final, I knew I had a good chance of winning and I was really confident going into the race (even more than when I raced in the heats), when I crossed the line and I saw a PB by a tenth of a second, I was really relieved because I had been working towards the sub 11 the whole season and there was no better place to do it. I knew I won the race but I almost didn’t believe it because it felt like a dream and receiving the medal I just couldn’t stop smiling.
You were seen celebrating with your family straight after winning your race, how was this?
It was a really special moment, my first international competition wearing my country’s colours, it almost felt like we all won the race, that’s how happy and supportive everyone was. My brother cried with joy, it was a very heart-warming moment when I hugged him and it even made headlines in the paper the next morning, that will stay in my memory forever.
How did you prepare for your race and to compete at the Commonwealth Games?
The main thing for me was to enjoy the experience, that’s what me and my coach spoke about, all the work had already been done during the season so all I had to do was get the right nutrients for my body and plenty of rest.
What was it like staying in the athletes village and do you have any favourite memories from competing in Birmingham?
The organisation was very good, there was lots of social rooms where you can meet athletes and play and even just relax, I really liked trading my England badges with other athletes, I probably have about 20 different badges and we would put them on our accreditation.
In June, you won Bronze in the 100m at the 2022 British Athletics Championships, what was this like?
I was very happy with my medal. I knew the athletes who finished 1st and 2nd very well and understood that they were further in their career than I was. I’ve been getting closer to their times each competition but there were aspects of my race at that time that I was still struggling with, but nonetheless, I’m still very happy because 2021 British Champs I didn’t get anything and finished 5th so, in my eyes, that’s good progression.
How was your time competing at the World Para Athletics Grand Prix, which saw you win Gold in Dubai and Silver in Paris?
This was my first competition outside of the UK and my season opener, the aim was to get a qualifying time to be selected for the Commonwealth Games as the deadline was April. Dubai was a beautiful country, it really makes me look forward to competing abroad because it’s a whole new atmosphere and experience. As for Paris, another amazing city, I went with the futures academy so I was familiar with everyone, I had a bad race but took lots of positives from it. It helped me understand what needed to be fixed/adjusted in my race, but overall, it was a good experience and I even went to Disneyland with Thomas Young and a few other athletes.
What do you enjoy most about being an athlete and can you say about some of the other competitions you’ve attended?
What I enjoy most is the fact that I am doing what I love. I want to be an inspiration to all sorts of people all over the globe. I also like meeting new people and knowing about their journey they’ve been on.
How did you get into athletics and is it something you always wanted to do?
Before athletics, I used to play football and, before football, I was a swimmer so I have always loved participating in sports. I was 15 years old when I attended a districts competition in Thurrock (Essex) and represented my school in the sprint events where one of my teachers saw me run and was quite impressed, afterwards she started to encourage me to start training and even found me a club.
What is a typical day training for you and what’s it like being part of the clubs Newham & Essex Beagles and Loughborough Students?
My typical day consists of lectures in the morning and training in the afternoon/evening, then I’ve got Thursday and Sunday off as I would use those days to recover. Being members of those clubs has been beneficial in my career, the support I have received from team members and staff is incredible, also, the access to facilities at both clubs are amazing.
Before the pandemic, you were part of the SportsAid event with Catherine, Princess of Wales (then Duchess of Cambridge), can you tell us about this and how did you find the experience?
This was an amazing experience. I was given the opportunity to meet the Duchess and speak to her about my sport and the difficulties within it. I also showed her, along with Olympian Jessica Ennis-Hill, how to set up sprinting blocks and we went about five metres, it was really good fun and I felt privileged to have met them both.
How do you like to spend your time away from your career?
I like to go out to events, restaurants, play on my console, play and watch football, spend time with family, I also tend to go to the cinema and bowling quite often as well, and I enjoy travelling.
Have you been given any advice over your career so far that has stuck with you and what advice would you give a young athlete starting out?
My mother would often tell me that ‘Rome wasn’t built in a day’ so the main advice I’d give anyone is to be patient and focused because results are never as straightforward as they seem.
Do you have any competitions coming up that you can tell us about or that you are targeting?
Yes, for the 2023 season, I am looking to attend the Müller Indoor Grand Prix, British Indoor and Outdoor Championships, Birmingham Diamond League, BUCS Championships and the World Para Championships.
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