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USATF Fast Track: Morolake Akinosun and Ashley Spencer


As 2016 Olympic track & field competition gets ready to start on Friday, USATF takes a moment for quick chats with team members.

Today’s feature:  Morolake Akinosun and Ashley Spencer, two Texas Longhorns.

As a 16-year-old high schooler, Akinosun tweeted that in 2016 she would be competing in the Olympics. Six years later, that prediction came true when she was named to the Team USA 4x100m relay pool. The 2013 World Junior champion in the 100m, she just completed her sophomore year at the University of Texas, where she already is a 13-time Big 12 champion.

The 2012 World Junior champion in the 400-meter hurdles, Spencer showed her speed at the 2016 World Indoor Championships by taking silver in the 400m sprint. Growing up in Indianapolis, she attended the University of Illinois before transferring to the University of Texas, following her coach, Tonja Buford-Bailey, the 1996 Olympic bronze medalist in the hurdles and currently the men’s and women’s sprints and hurdles coach at UT. Now 23 years old, Spencer will compete in the 400m hurdles in Rio and has the third-fastest time this year among those in the field (54.02).


Q: Name something Brazilian:   

A: Brazilian Real, the money

Q:   Does your practice or training change leading up to the Games?

A: It doesn’t really change, we just stick to the same thing we’ve been doing, that’s what got us here.

Q:  What does wearing the USA across your chest mean to you?

A: It means the world to me, especially since I wasn’t born in the US (she was born in Nigeria),  and I’m able to represent this country. It means a great deal to me.

Q: If you could compete in another Olympic sport, what would it be?

A: Gymnastics.  I think it’s cool, they do flips and whatnot. I just think it’s really cool because I can’t do that, I can’t even do a cartwheel, but I’d love to be a gymnast.

Q: Who is your favorite Olympian?

A: Tonja Buford-Bailey

Q: Have you done any sightseeing?

A: I haven’t really yet. I have to see Christ the Redeemer. Christ the Redeemer is a have to, I have to go there.

Q: Is your family coming to Rio?

A: My mom, dad, both sisters and my aunt

Q: What do you expect when you walk into the stadium to compete for the first time?

A: I expect a really big stadium, a fast track and really exciting relays, with seven really exciting teams. We’re going to get the baton all the way around.




Q: Is this your first time in Rio and are you excited to be here?

A: Yes, it’s my first time and I’m really excited. I’m trying to find an area of my day and just reflect on it. It’s a little overwhelming sometimes. I’m very excited and ready to get going, ready to compete.


Q: How’s your training been going?

A: I’ve been doing light stuff, going over some hurdles, doing some tempos because my coach isn’t here yet. The more aggressive stuff will come in about a week. I still have about a week until she is here to get prepared. I’ve been fine-tuning some things.  I’ve really just been getting ready for that all-important first round (Thursday, August 18).


Q: How’s your mental preparation been?

A: I’m just going to treat this as another track meet. I’m here and I’m against world class, and I’m world class. I just try to treat it like just another track meet, keep myself calm and execute my race as best I can. I am really new to the 400 hurdles and every race will be a learning experience. If I do exactly what I did at Trials I could come out pretty successfully.


Q: Did you bring any good luck charms with you?

A: I got my nails done! My dad got me this crown ring about two years ago at Christmas, and I almost never take it off. My Nana gave me some earrings that I wear. I lost her in 2014. I keep her near and dear to me, I never take this ring off, I always have my nails done. I like to think Morolake and Coach Bailey are my good luck charms.


Q: What does your family think of all of this?

A: My mom won’t stop crying. You can’t say the word “Rio” or “Olympics”  or “Ashley” without her actually tearing up. My dad is really excited. They love to travel. My sister is so excited. She’s about to start law school, so this is the trip to be on before hitting the books. My aunt was my old high school coach and she’s very excited just to see me run at the Olympic Games. I know they’re proud of me if I leave with or without a medal. Regardless, I am blessed to have them to come all the way over here to watch me run. Everybody’s so excited, and I’m ready to get going.


Ashley Mitchell

Marketing & Communications Manager


132 E. Washington St., Suite 800

Indianapolis, IN 46204

Office: 317.713.4672


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