Q&A WITH… JOSEPH FAHNBULLEH

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Country: Liberia

Profession: Athlete – 100m/200m

Career highlights:

  • 2022 World Championships 200m finalist – 4th
  • 2022 NCAA sprint double champion
  • 2021 NCAA 200m champion
  • 2020 Olympic 200m finalist – 5th
  • first Liberian athlete to make the Olympics and World Championships finals

Congratulations on a very successful season, and on turning pro! Can you tell us what was going through your mind as you signed on the dotted line of the Asics contract?

Thank you, I appreciate it. When I was signing the dotted line to run for ASICS I chose to give it all to the brand. I wasn’t nervous, more excited to get to work and make the ASICS name big in sprints. I also knew that with good always comes bad, and I was ready to take on the challenges that may be coming my way. ASICS has my full trust and commitment.

You declared you would complete for Liberia at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, what brought about the decision to run for Liberia?

The decision stemmed from my mother, I told her I wanted to represent her home country the best way I can and on the biggest stages possible. Running for Liberia was an easy choice but it’s more than running for me, it’s about the legacy I’ll leave behind when I’m done with the sport.

How do you prepare for a race on race day?

I am superstitious so I have a certain way I do things race day and the night before, like sticking to foods I know. I always pray when I wake up, when I get to the track, and when I’m in the call room. I’m usually more relaxed and chilled at the hotel but when I arrive at the track, I become more serious because it’s business time.

What secret talent do you have?

My secret talent is art. I love drawing and creating art. I don’t show it off as much because I don’t really have time for it, but when I do have time that’s all I do.

When you feel like relaxing – where would we find you?

You will find me in my bedroom or at the bowling alley. I love to bowl with Coach Holloway and friends. It’s a stress reliever of mine. I like to be by myself since I’m an only child, so it feels natural for me. I also make my room a safe space, so it is good vibes all around.

What 3 words would you use to describe yourself?

Compassionate, motivated, perfectionist

What do you always have in your fridge at home?

I always have green grapes, Minute Made peach juice and lactose milk because I eat Frosted Flakes for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

If you could have a pet, what kind of animal would you choose?

Realistically I’d have a red and rust Doberman. Unrealistically I’d own a cheetah but keep its natural habitat and have caregivers watch over it because they’re going extinct and I don’t want to see the fastest land animal disappear for good.

We read that you are fan of Japanese culture, especially anime. Who is your favourite anime character and why?

Rock Lee from Naruto is my all-time favorite. He was “disadvantaged” by not being allowed to employ any nin or genjutsu, but he still managed to outfight everyone by using tai jutsu. As the anime progresses, you can see him assiduously hone his skill and improve. Despite his lack of natural talent, he worked extremely hard and dedicated himself to becoming one of the most powerful and respected characters in the show. I can relate to it since, despite not getting off to the best start, I focused on improving my finishing pace. Please don’t misunderstand; I continue to improve every day. Rock Lee taught me the importance of having patience and unwavering faith in yourself and your mentor. I use those same lessons today on the track.

Another favourite of mine is Black Star of Soul Eater. The storyline and plot are appealing, in addition to the art style. Everyone except for Black Star’s partner, Tusubaki, finds it difficult to comprehend why he behaves the way he does. I’m similar. The only person who truly knows me and the reasons behind my actions is my mother. It’s amazing to watch the growth of Black Stars inside our soul eater. Resilient is the only word that adequately captures who he is. He still gets up every day, tries to make people smile, and puts in hard work—even if it kills him. The challenges he had as a child are truly reflected in his hard-working, uncompromising personality.

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