Sprint and long jump ace Blessing Okagbare has been a world-class performer for many years. Here the Nigerian divulges three interesting facts about her.

1. I used to trek on foot two hours to training

“I grew up the hard way in Nigeria. I was raised by my grandmother, my mother was not around and my family was a little separated. Growing up the way I did made me a tough person.

“When I was younger growing up in the city of Sapele, I often used to trek by foot to the stadium, which was two hours away. Sometimes I would jog from house and the stop to walk when I was tired. Then I’d make the same trek back, which is not something you want to experience after a tough training session.

“Often I didn’t do the trek alone. There’d be others to walk with and have a laugh with, which made it more fun and helped pass the time more quickly. Looking back, I think that experience of trekking to and from training has given me little tolerance for lazy people. I would say to people ‘don’t whine, just work hard to help yourself’.”

2. I’m funny, not grouchy!

“Many people see me on the track in my work environment and see me as grouchy. I try to smile when I can on the track, but I am serious about my job. Yet those who know me, know that I am nothing like I am on the track. When people get to know me and I am comfortable with them they know that I am sweet, very funny and a little bit goofy.

“My tough outer shell is only there for self-protection because of the tough environment I grew up in.”

3. I’m mad for music

“Music is my passion. I’m not a great singer, but no matter how much I try to stay away from music, I can’t. It is something I love and I can’t fight it! I love gospel music, but it is not only about hearing the sounds and the beat, I love to listen to the lyrics.

“I tend to learn a lot from the lyrics and like to identify with what they are saying. One of the first things I do every morning is put on music. It makes me happy and helps me relax.”