22nd June 2009

Family Affair


22 June 2009

The Aviva World Trials & UK Championships, taking place at the Alexander Stadium 10, 11, 12 July will witness a rare occasion, as three members of the same family look to test themselves against the country’s best. The Walsall based Okoro family will be represented by older brother Edirin and twins Ese and Ejiro, and the trio will be out to impress in front of a home crowd.

Twenty-year-old Edirin will compete in the 110m hurdles, following a win in the same event at last year’s Under 20 England Open Championships. For him, it’s the next step in his burgeoning young career. “I’m just trying to find out where I am in the hurdling world and what I need to do for next year’s training” said the Birchfield Harrier.

“My goal is to make the finals of the Aviva World Trials & UK Championships, as well as hopefully getting a personal best.

“I’ve had some flexibility issues, so I haven’t managed to get a full range of movement.  I haven’t really run as well as I could have, so I really don’t know where I stand amongst the other guys in the country. However, I’m definitely a lot better than I was three months ago. The Aviva Trials will show how well the recovery has gone and how I cope with big competition, especially against guys like European bronze medallist Andy Turner.”

Ese Okoro, who studied at Shire Oak School in Walsall along with her brother and sister, echoes her brother’s sentiments, as she herself prepares to face the like of Olympic bronze medallist Tasha Danvers in the 400m hurdles. “I’m a bit nervous, but it will definitely be a good stepping stone to compete at that level. I’ve got my Under 20’s European trials two weeks beforehand, so I’m hopefully going to qualify for that and then see what happens at the Aviva Trials. But, it’s on my home track, so I want to do well.”

Indeed, the fact that they will be competing ‘at home’ has given all family members added incentive to put in a good show. Edirin, who is studying psychology at Wolverhampton University, said, “Having a major UKA event here means a great deal to me. We used to live right behind the track and I’ve trained there for as long as I can remember.

“It’s like my second home – I’ve probably been there longer than in any house! Every time I’ve run there, I think I’ve run a personal best as well. Fingers crossed, I’ll get another PB at the trials – I know that track well enough to."

“You really want to show what you can do in front of friends and family”, adds Ese. “My training has been going really well and I feel a lot stronger and more positive than I did before. What better place to show that off than at home?”

One can only imagine what it must be like having all of them under one roof, but Ejiro, who will be running the 800m at the Midlands track, squashes any thoughts of problems. “It can get competitive, but it never gets too bad, because we all do different events.

“The thing is that we’ve pretty much done every sport there is together. We started playing basketball for two to three years, alongside athletics. It’s been really cool watching each other pick and choose their own sport. We all found our own niches and I think that helps. They’ll be cheering me when I face Jenny Meadows and Marilyn Okoro [no relation] at the Aviva Trials and I’ll be doing the same for them.”

Adds Edirin: “We encourage and drive each other. If somebody gets a personal best, we ALL want a personal best. We all live and breathe athletics, but it’s never too much of a problem.”

With a unique level of support from family and friends, plus intimate knowledge of the venue, it appears that all three Okoros are well placed to make their marks on the Aviva Trials & UK Championships next month.

The Aviva World Trials & UK Championships is part organised by Birmingham City Council and supported by Marketing Birmingham.  

The Championships take place at Birmingham’s Alexander Stadium on 10, 11 and 12 July. Tickets can be purchased online at www.uka.org.uk and by phone on 0800 055 60 56.