30 year-old Mark Jelks, Nigeria’s latest fastest man, talks to the Nigerian press immediately after his win in the 100 metres, in a time of 10.23 seconds (-2.3 m/s wind) at the Nigerian Trials at the UJ Esuene Stadium in Calabar on June 20th, 2014…
How do you feel after winning your first Nigerian 100 metre Title?
I’m tired, hungry, sleepy…did I mention hungry? Men, it is breath-taking to be here. Seriously, I’m in awe right now. Words can’t accurately express what I feel right now.
Right, we know that you didn’t just think that you were going to waltz in here and win this. Was there anything special you had to do to win here today?
You know, I just had to keep faith in what my training has been, and I knew that it wasn’t going to be an easy win. These guys are hungry to win out here on the track, so I just kept faith in what my coach and I had been working on.
So next stop for you is the Commonwealth Games
Yes, yes! I am ready, I am excited.
We are experiencing a time in Nigerian Athletics where our men are not doing very well. Last year at the World Championships our men could not progress beyond the heats. Now looking forward to the Commonwealth Games you are the Nigerian Champion, you’re the new kid on the block, you’ve beaten former Champions Ogho-Oghene Egwero and Obinna Metu to win the title. Are we going to see you perform better with regards to your time?
I am here to win medals. I am here to represent to the best of my abilities. I will go past rounds, I will make the finals, and I will get medals.
Mark, can you tell us what made you decide to switch allegiance from Team USA to represent Nigeria?
The opportunity to represent a great country. Seriously, there are more opportunities here to flourish, to be great and to have the opportunity to get to the bigger stage. So that was the deciding factor for me
So what was the process of switching like? Do you have any parents, grandparents or someone in your ancestry who is from Nigeria? How does it work?
Yeah, my ‘Papa’! I call him Papa, he’s my grand-dad. My uncle still stays here, so I decided to explore that side of my family.
And for Nigerian fans, can you tell us where your Papa is from?
What was your preparation like ahead of winning the Nigerian 100m title here?
The preparation is gruelling, it hurts. That is why I respect all those guys in the final, because they hurt just as much as I hurt. Every day they go out and do the same types of things that I am doing, to make the final, to represent, to get on the team, so it’s humbling and at the same time, exciting.