She is the Italian national record holder in the 400 hurdles, she set national records also with the 4×400 relays outdoor and indoor, and she has led the national team as captain at the last indoor World Athletics Championships in Glasgow. Now she hopes to make her mark at the upcoming European Athletics Championships in Rome scheduled from June 7th to 12th, 2024. (tickets on sale here).

Ayomide Folorunso, the 27-year-old Italian hurdler, can’t wait to compete at the Foro Italico Park next june: “It will be wonderful to run at home, in such a beautiful stadium like the “Olimpico”. The Golden Gala in Rome is already a highly significant event for friends, family, and all Italian athletics fans, I can’t imagine what is going to happen for the European Athletics Championships – admits Folorunso, under-23 champion in the 400 meter hurdles in Bydgoszcz, Poland, in 2017 – the magical atmosphere we will find will push us to give our best and will give us the opportunity to test ourselves at the international level. It will be a dream.”

Born in Nigeria, Ayomide (which means “my joy has arrived” in Nigerian, while Folorunso means “under the protection of God’s eyes”) has been living in Fidenza, near Parma, since 2004, where she trains with big ambitions: “My goal has never changed. It is to constantly improve. The desire, my prayer, is for the difficulties of last year to be resolved, and for the achievements reached in the past to serve as the solid base for this year.”

Ayomide is the daughter of a religious teacher and a Pentecostal pastor, she is attending medical university, and on the track, she continues to work to improve: “Track and field is a fairly individual sport, where often you are against yourself. However, behind every athlete, there’s always a collective effort, with dedicated staff guiding the athletes to reach their peak mental and physical conditions. When we come together as a group, the energy of each athlete among us multiplies. A teammate who performs well stimulates you and gives you strength.”

Among the opponents that Folorunso will face at the European Athletics Championships in Rome will be the Dutch world champion Femke Bol, with whom she shared a training base in South Africa in recent months. “Working with such a talented girl and the group of internationally acclaimed athletes that gathered around her helped me understand how to train better: in addition to talent, there is an important mindset. Over the years, I have observed Femke Bol a lot, when training ends she always dedicates herself to specific sessions to strengthen certain parts of the body. Fortunately, it’s a approach I’ve adopted since I was young, but watching such a strong athlete made me understand that this is the right path. In order to improve, you must never neglect the details.”

In addition to hurdles, Folorunso is also one of the pillars of the Italian 4×400 relay team, with which she has won silver and bronze at the indoor European Athletics Championships. “We are a very close-knit group, with a beautiful story. The medals we have won encourage us for the upcoming challenges and make us dream big.”

Roma 2024 is the next opportunity to make history again together with her Italian teammates.

Credit photo: Grana\FIDAL