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Track and Field: Sade Olatoye throws herself into Ohio State record books

Ohio State senior Sade Olatoye goes through her motions during a weight throw. Credit: Courtesy of OSU Athletics

Breaking record after record, Sade Olatoye has carved out a space for herself in the school’s history books.

Olatoye wasn’t always a track athlete. In third grade, she started playing basketball, which became her main sport. In seventh grade, she joined track as a way to stay busy.

“I thought I was definitely going to be a sprinter,” Olatoye said. “That turned out not to be the case.”

Instead, she participated in shot put, discus and high jump.

While attending Dublin Coffman High School, Olatoye continued playing basketball and running track, still as just a hobby.

That would all change.

Olatoye tore her ACL after a contact injury on the basketball court before her senior year of high school.

Her high school track and field coach, David Woodmansee, said he remembers her being devastated. But the injury proved to be much more critical to her future than she knew at the time.

“[The injury] pushed me more to the track side, and the bigger offers I was getting [were] for track and field,” Olatoye said.

Olatoye knew she would have to focus on track and field after her commitment to Ohio State her senior year of high school, preparing for events she might not be used to: the hammer throw and the weight throw.

Before starting her fall semester at Ohio State, Olatoye took summer classes and trained with Ashley Kovacs, the assistant throws coach at Ohio State, when she was introduced to the collegiate field events.

With no experience in either the hammer or the weight throw, Olatoye was off to a slow start. But she did not let that get to her.  

Olatoye said the summer training helped her to get the repetition and practice she needed to establish the fundamentals to excel in the two events during her freshman year.

During the summer of her freshman year, Olatoye represented the United States at the U-20 World Junior Olympics.

“Being able to represent the United States as one of the top two throwers my freshman year was really amazing,” Olatoye said.

Kovacs said Olatoye is one of the best competitors she’s ever seen.

“She has all the physical tools she needs to be at the absolute highest levels,” Kovacs said.

Olatoye’s success didn’t stop after her freshman year.

Throughout her sophomore year, she won a total of 10 titles during the outdoor season.

It was also the year Olatoye made a place for herself in the record books as the first woman in program history to win both the shot put and weight throw at the same conference meet. She also became the first woman in program history to be named Big Ten Indoor Field Athlete of the Year.

But Olatoye still had larger goals on her mind. She did not compete during the outdoor season of her junior year, strategically redshirting to get an opportunity to get an Olympic qualifying mark during the 2020 season.

During her senior indoor season Olatoye has begun that process.

After winning and setting records in both the shot put and weight throw at the Big Ten Championships, she earned herself the No. 1 spot in the nation in both events.

Because of her performance, Olatoye earned a spot on the Bowerman watch list and is the first Buckeye to ever receive this honor.

The Bowerman Award is presented annually by the U.S. Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association to the most outstanding male and female NCAA track and field athletes in the nation.

She is also the first athlete at Ohio State to win the Great Lakes Women’s Field Athlete of the Year award.

Looking forward to the NCAA Championships, Olatoye said she hopes to get over the standard and break 18 meters in the shot put and qualify for the World Championship, which takes place in the fall.

Olatoye also said she hopes to break 24 meters in the weight throw.

“I think that Sade can go as far as she wants to go in the sport,” Kovacs said. “There are no limits for what Sade could do.”

Olatoye said all the awards she has received are humbling, but she reminds herself to not let it go to her head.

“Don’t get blindsided by all the shiny things that are in front of you you just have to focus at the task at hand,” Olatoye said.

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