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Prejudice and bigotry often blatant in society: World champ Courtney Okolo on BLM movement

In an interview with The New Indian Express, the multiple world champ speaks about life in lockdown, the challenge of getting back on to the track, the Black Lives Matter movement in the US and more

Published: 21st July 2020 06:34 PM  |   Last Updated: 21st July 2020 06:34 PM   |  A+A-

Racism, Black Lives Matter, George Floyd

'The images were very powerful and moved millions of people to fight for an end to the racial injustices towards black people,' says Courtney Okolo (Photo | AP)

Express News Service

CHENNAI: The US has dominated the women's 4x400 at the Olympics. They have always medalled at the event (except in 1980 when the country boycotted) and have won gold every time since 1996. At Rio de Janeiro in 2016, Courtney Okolo managed to experience it first hand. She ran the lead leg in the final. The 26-year-old was looking forward to repeating that performance in Tokyo before the coronavirus pandemic struck.

In an interview with The New Indian Express, the Dallas-born multiple world champion speaks about life in lockdown, the challenge of getting back on to the track, the mass Black Lives Matter movement across the US, and her own greeting card business. Excerpts:  

On lockdown and how hard it has been to train: The pandemic has affected everyone somehow, some more than others. I like to consider myself fortunate. I haven't lost anyone and I'm able to still live a fairly normal life. Training has been interrupted every now and then, but we have still been able to get many quality days in.

On the challenge to keep slogging without any clarity: It has not been hard for me. I enjoy training and don't necessarily need competition to motivate me or push me in training. I draw motivation from many places. Although things are weird now, it is sometimes good to switch up the routine we are accustomed to.

On racing and competing with Allyson Felix (the six-time Olympic champion incidentally ran the anchor leg in 2016): Allyson is a great competitor and an even greater person. I, like many others, have watched her grow as an athlete and seen her overcome many obstacles she's faced. Her journey would be inspiring to me even if I had nothing to do with track and field.

On the mass Black Lives Matter movement across the US in the aftermath of George Floyd's death: Yes, the images were very powerful and moved millions of people to fight for an end to the racial injustices towards black people in the US and the world. It's unfortunate. I, like everyone else, should feel tired and frustrated that prejudice and bigotry are so common and often blatant in society, especially in the criminal justice system.

On your greeting card business: I sell greeting cards on Etsy, an online marketplace. I would always go on the site and find birthday or Christmas or Valentine's Day cards for people I care about. The selection is a lot better than going to an actual store. In May, my best friend was graduating but I couldn't find a good card for her on Etsy, so I made my own. It sparked the idea to make and sell my own card so I started OG Greeting Cards.

Quick hits
*Open to competing before a vaccine is in production
*Enjoyed the mixed 4x400m relay (she was part of the team that won gold at the Worlds last year in this event)
*Puts down US' effectiveness in the 4x400 to strength in depth

Know Courtney
Full name: Courtney Okolo
DOB: March 15, 1994
Specialty: 400m
Training base: Austin
Titles: Olympics: Gold 4x400m (2016)
Worlds: Gold 4x400m and 4x400m mixed (both in 2019)
Worlds (indoor): Gold 4x400m (2016), 400m, 4x400m relay (2018)


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