On Saturday, Philips Olatunde will swap his football boots and pitch for athletics spike and tracks as the 2019 SociaLympics tagged GokadaSociaLympics officially takes off.
Philip is set for what will be his second participation in the SociaLympics with this year’s event the third-ever and billed for the Campus Mini Stadium in Lagos Island.
In an interesting interview with thesocialiga.com ahead of the competition this weekend, Philips reveals why the SociaLympics is special to him and what his father would tell him if he were alive before stepping on the tracks.
Philips lost his father in October 2014 and since then, everything he has done has been to honor the memory of his late father and this included dedicating his medals late year the man who supported every sporting decision he took.
The 2018 edition was Philips’ first-ever and it was particularly special for the young athlete as it fell on the day of the fourth remembrance of his father’s death.
For him, therefore, SociaLympics in the month of October means more than just a game indeed.
“Last year’s SociaLympics to me was a whole lot of a great deal, ” Olatunde told thesocialiga.com. “I felt really honored been able to participate.”
“The month of the event was also my dad’s 4th year remembrance so I really wanted to do something for him. I could still remember vividly the morning of the event all my mum said was ‘enjoy yourself and make your dad proud and that was all I had in mind.”
It is five years now since his father’s demise, but Philips says his mother has been more than a pillar of support for him.
“I also compete for my mum who has been a father and mother at the same time. She’s God sent, been everywhere, doing everything and anything to give me a better life even if it means going out of her way or getting to inconvenient herself so much.”
Having confirmed his participation for the 2019 edition, Philip told thesocialiga.com that with the competition slated again in October, it is another special moment for him as he has another chance to make his late dad proud.
“Yes, it really is (a special competition for me) because I see it as another chance to make him proud and also make the name PHILLIPS known and heard.”
He also has an idea what his father would have told him if he were to be alive today as he prepares for the GokadaSociaLympics.
“I really might not get his exact words though but I think it will say ‘Ola go and win and let them see the PHILLIPS in you.’
Just a week ago, Philips helped his Bet9jaSociaLiga side, the Raineri Ghosts book a ticket to the last four, scoring one of two goals in the crucial and decisive win over Guns.
But in his first SociaLympics, the sprinter competed against the Ghosts, a decision he says didn’t go down well with them as he went on to win three medals for the Team SociaLiga Foundation.
“I competed against my football team, Raineri, representing the (SociaLiga) Foundation team, ” he added.
“That (competing against them) was something I really can’t explain- I felt bad doing it actually because I saw it on the faces of my teammates- they weren’t too cool with the decision I made.”
“(But) I will also say that it psyched me up to get some of the medals I got though some saw it as a competition, I saw it as a means of expressing and enjoying myself.”
On target, Philips is looking forward to improving on the performance that saw him win one silver and two bronze medals last year in the 2019 GokadaSociaLympics but this time with Raineri.
“I’m so looking forward to this year’s event, Just like last year, it’s still in the remembrance month of my dad. The only difference this time is that I’ll be representing Raineri.”
“I have started my countdown since the first day of the month, less than a week and I’m really gearing up for it. Yes, I couldn’t get a gold medal last year which I’m really hoping to get and also some other medals and also finish the day as overall champion with my team.”