#BounceExclusive: Meet Another Nigerian Champion Made-In-Mushin
Mushin ranks high among the most volatile places to live in Lagos state but despite this supposedly bad label, this difficult terrain is helping to breed champions in a rather unique way.
Rival gangs in the Mushin neighbourhood often engage in power tussles and as they say; the grass suffers when two elephants fight.
Shola Oloowokere was once part of this grass that was trampled upon but now he is a national champion and the best in his category as far as taekwondo is concerned in Nigeria.
He traces his rise to stardom to the hostile Mushin environment.
“It wasn’t easy growing up in Mushin, I was usually bullied by the kids around and that actually contributed a lot to my decision to go and learn taekwondo as a form of self-defense” Oloowokere told Bounce Sports.
“I started taekwondo because of my environment; I grew up in Mushin. I started when I was seven, then I was a student at Moshalashi primary school. My brother, at the time, was a boxer, it was he who introduced me, taking me to the national stadium. My brother did not last in boxing because he could not get support.
Presently, Oloowokere is a third-year student of the University of Lagos studying Chemistry Education.
The 20-year old who is the fifth child in six says the road to the top in Taekwondo is quite bumpy.
“Since I started, it has been full of ups and downs. You win sometimes and lose some. I started going for kiddies competitions but at the age of 13, I started fighting the senior category.
“At first, I used to be afraid as I was small but with encouragement from my coach I was able to overcome that fear and I am now doing well.”
Doing well comes with so much sacrifice for Oloowokere even as he continues to dominate the length and breadth of the country and beyond.
“It has not been easy. I rarely sleep beyond four hours every day. So my day starts at 3 am with some revision of school work. Around 5 am, I train and do some body work; then prepare for classes and other running around; I go to bed at 11 pm.” He said.
With just one international meet under his belt, Oloowokere is desperate for support to show the world his talent.
“Yes, once at the commonwealth since then I have been winning within the country but there has been no support from government.” He lamented.
“We have guys who are not even up to our standard but who are ranked on the world taekwondo ranking but we are not ranked because we do not have the opportunities to compete in these events where we can be rated so we cannot be ranked.
"I feel if we are in the running, qualifying for the Olympics should be a sure thing. As it stands if I get support, there are still a lot of competitions that I can still attend in the build up to the Olympics.
"Even when you still have to go the qualifier route, it would still be easier because a lot of the guys you will be meeting will be familiar foes.
Voted as the best fighter at the last Lagos International Classics, Oloowokere ended his year with a fantastic performance winning another
gold at KAC(Korean Ambassadors Cup).
ALSO WATCH: Bounce Sports: Super Eagles Coach Searching For More Players