Q&A WITH… KAYODE YAYA

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Country: Nigeria

Profession: Coach

Kayode is the coach to Olympic and World Championships bronze medallist, Ese Brume. He is a World Athletics and IOC certified coach. 

Kayode studied Civil Engineering at the Federal University of Technology in Akure, Nigeria.

Can you describe what you felt the moment Ese leapt 6.97m to win Olympic bronze?

I felt great because that was her first jump! I was actually expecting her to jump further than that, but the circumstances at that time and a few mistakes impacted that jump, but in the end I was very thankful, this is an Olympic medal we’re talking about! She had medals from all major events, and the only one missing was an Olympic one. So, I felt really excited when we knew she had the bronze.

The coach athlete relationship is such a unique and special one – what do you do to create this bond with your athletes?

This relationship is a special one because of the various roles a coach plays in the life of an athlete. The coach acts as a parent, confidant, mentor,  manager and even social worker. You ensure you fit in every aspect of their lives because if one aspect of their life is not working correctly you can be sure that it will affect their performance. Most of the time I tell them: “This is not just about making you faster for a race or jump, but rather, it is about helping you have a good life as well and making sure you are a good role model to the people who look up to you”.

What has been your most challenging moment in your work as a coach?

I think there are a lot of moments in coaching that are challenging. The moments when the athlete cannot comprehend what you are trying to get across to them. When they have mood swings. When they think they know what they are doing and don’t want to be coached. Moments when they try hiding something from you, and you just know something is not right. Moments when you try and explain something to them, but they still don’t want to see things from your point of view.

But one of the most challenging moments for me is trying to make an athlete understand that sometimes you have to go through certain things for you to achieve your goals and they look at you like you are talking about something that is out of this world! This moment really hurts as a coach, sometimes you just want to quit, but that is a part of coaching, so you must keep going.

What characteristics do you see in great athletes that separates them from average athletes?     

I believe there are no great athletes. You only become great, you work to become great and there are no average athletes either. No one is born a winner. Yes, you might be born with the ability and talent, and favourable environmental factors that also play a part in an athlete becoming great – but you need to start from the bottom and work your way through the process to become great. When someone is focused and know what they want, they need to put in all their energy to get the results. It is as simple as that.

What do you know now that you wish you knew when you started your coaching career?

I should have put more of God first. I thought my intelligence and education was all I needed to get the job done. To tell you the truth, most times you need God to give you the right direction. You can have all the knowledge and all the skills without direction. They say when preparation meets opportunity you become the right person at the right time. So, when you become the right person at the wrong time, you miss that opportunity. But when you have God to give you direction, you get everything right.

What do you do for fun, when you are not busy developing coaching programs?

Hahaha…when I am not busy developing training programs, what I do for fun is to develop another training program!! When you have passion and love for something you create time, whether you are focused or relaxed. Even when on vacation the same thing comes to mind, even then you will find new ideas to improve your work.

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