He admits it has been a process to get to where he is now after five years of high school, plus five years of university. But Mobolade (Bolade) Ajomale is finally ready to join the rest of Canada’s top sprinters.
It didn’t seem like it was worth it at the time, but those years spent in school prepared him for what he plans to do now, and made him into the athlete and person he is today. Ajomale might be breaking onto the professional scene a few years later than his peers, but he believes that there was no rush getting to the big stage and benefited by staying patient throughout the years.
“Now that I see where I am in life and the position I’ve put myself in in terms of being successful, I think it was definitely worth it,” said Ajomale. “There’s nothing wrong with taking your time to make a decision and I think that’s what a lot of athletes tend to miss out on, trying to rush for the next big thing. I think it’s really important to take your time and make those decisions, because at the end of the day it’s only going to benefit you.”
Graduating with degree in Communications and Media Technologies from the Academy of Art University, even though he’s committed the last 10 years to track and getting to where he is now, he has gathered a collection of experiences that will help him in the future. Some experiences are highlighted by being a 10-time NCAA Champion, but others are less flashy though they provided learning opportunities.
One of his most memorable races early on was at the 2014 Ontario Federation of School Athletic Association (OFSAA) Track & Field Championships, Ontario’s high school provincials. It was his fifth and final year competing for Alexander Mackenzie High School in Richmond Hill, Ont., and he wanted one last crack at a senior OFSAA gold medal in the 100-metres.
Having finished second the previous year to Andre Ford-Azonwanna, and racing against Andre De Grasse where they both finished in the middle of the field the year before that, Ajomale was determined for more. The incident occurred in the 2014 final and Ajomale, the heavy favourite after the preliminary races, stumbled out of the blocks and momentarily took himself out of the race. He regained his position and was able to come away with the win, but it left a lasting impression on him.
“That was the moment I decided that I’m not going to let it happen again. I have to go find a way to make myself better and rise up to a different level,” explained Ajomale.
Last competing at the Speed River Inferno in Guelph, which also hosted this year’s OFSAA Championships, Ajomale smiled when asked about being back at the event, saying it puts things into perspective for him now.
For many high school athletes in Ontario, OFSAA was where everyone wanted to be at the end of their season. For Ajomale, it was no different. “Everything we wanted to do was to do it for OFSAA, that was the only thing we were focused on,” said Ajomale, who ranks fifth on the fastest OFSAA all-time 100-metre times at 10.51 seconds. “Now that I’m out of OFSAA and out of the NCAA, I see that there is so much more to be accomplished.”
At this moment, Ajomale is looking to ink his first professional sponsorship deal, often seen as the first step to getting a career in this sport started. Not able to say the specifics of any potential deals, Ajomale shared that it’s been a goal of his growing up and it quantifies all the work he’s put into this sport as an athlete.
“Now that I’m at the point where I’ve graduated university and started getting recognition by big name companies, it’s great motivation and makes me hungry, makes me want to continue running and to do even better each race.”
And there is no doubt he will become better. With his sights set on the Canadian Track & Field Championships that take place from July 25-28 in Montreal and the Pan American Games shortly thereafter, Ajomale wants to see the top competition the world can offer him.
With Aaron Brown and De Grasse sitting atop Canada’s men’s sprinting group, Ajomale isn’t the person to shy away from the challenge of running with them; let alone doubt his own abilities. He has all the respect for them, there’s no animosity between them and they remain friends and teammates at the end of the day.
“I already feel like I am one of them,” said the Richmond Hill native. “We’ve run with each other multiple times, beat each other a couple of times and I feel like I’ve earned the right to be noticed as one of them, one of Canada’s top sprinters.”
That swagger and confidence has also translated beyond the track. Sitting at a Starbucks after class one day, he was approached by a photographer who complimented his “nice jaw structure.” He now does modelling on the side while working at his friend’s agency, and he has enjoyed every aspect of it. “I got more gigs out of it, I enjoy the process and taking pictures.”
The theme of patience and working through the process is evident in Ajomale. Now that he’s here, ready for whatever is put in front of him, he believes those experiences will be even more vital to his success.
Between his time on the track, time in front of the cameras, and the experiences that have brought him to the big stage, it is about being ready, but patient, for when the time comes. It is just his style.
“Going through all that stress in the previous year’s really allowed me to learn the importance of patience,” concludes Ajomale. “If I hadn’t gone through those struggles, and I just got everything right at the moment that I wanted to, run the times when I wanted to, I don’t think I would understand what it means to be patient.”
“Because I failed so many times before I got here, it really allowed me to appreciate being patient and waiting for my time to come.”
And there is no doubt in his mind, his time has come.