Q&A with… Mark Otieno Odhiambo

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Country: Kenya

Profession:  100m Athlete

Career highlights:

  • National record holder (10.14)
  • Current National champion

Mark has represented Kenya at the World Athletics Championships, World Relays, Commonwealth Games, African Athletics Championships and All African Games. He is also an employee of the Kenyan Postal Services working in the human resource department. He has learnt to balance work and training to make ends meet.

How much in US dollars do you estimate you spend to prepare for the Olympics?

Between 5000-8000 US dollars.

What kind of support should athletes receive when preparing for the Olympics?

Athletes should have some form of a camp set aside, where one can train, sleep, eat, get physio and coaching support without worry. This should not happen only on the Olympic year. If an organization or nation really want their athletes to perform well for the Olympics, they should plan well in advance, maybe a year or 2 with the Olympics in mind. I believe this is where we get beaten; other nations invest heavily on their athletes. The difference between an athlete who’s been invested in and that who hasn’t is like night and day.

What was the best financial advice you received as a professional athlete?

In order to reap the rewards from your athletics career, you should be willing to invest whatever it takes – you can’t invest the bare minimum and expect to get results.

What is the biggest misconception about T/F athletes?

The 80s and 90s really tainted athletics, so most people believe that we are on some form of steroids or banned substances. We’ve lost a huge following because of the doping scandals.

What are the two things you wish you had known before you become a professional athlete?

I wish I knew the academic opportunities I could have explored as a young talented athlete. I’m often turned down right now because schools believe that I’m too old. Heart-breaking to say the least.

I wish I had been more patient with myself. I’ve beaten myself up so much in the past over some races when in essence, the outcomes were out of my control. Some things can only happen over time and you can’t rush the process.

What is the difference between an amateur and professional athlete, besides performance?

Their running mechanics, composure, and poise! You can tell a seasoned athlete, they are often very therapeutic to watch, results aside. Watching them is almost like poetry in motion.

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