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The Road to Success - A Guide for Sprint Athletes

The Road to Success - A Guide for Sprint Athletes


As an athlete, the road to success is never easy. It requires diligence, patience, consistency and proper planning.

Throughout my journey as an athlete, I’ve had to do a lot of learning and in this blog, I’ll be sharing with you the lessons I’ve learnt along the way. 

Sprint athlete ready to run

Why setbacks are key to success

The setbacks are always frustrating and annoying at the time, but in the long run prove to be massively beneficial for learning lessons.

Knowing the sport you're in and how it works is key to understanding the direction that you intend to go, which can be difficult sometimes when the information you require isn’t always readily available. 

If you don’t have the right minds around you to feed you the correct information, you could be doing or believing things that are detrimental to your overall growth and progress as an athlete and as an individual. I've learnt that it’s important to consult various minds within the sport from a range of event groups to really be able to find out what may work best for you.

The approach to training and development will differ from person to person. Having a team around you that understands this will enable you to feel more comfortable with yourself. 

Sprinter and her coach

Have the right people around you

By having a supportive network, you'll know that you don’t have to do things in the exact same way as the ones who have come before you or are currently alongside you. If you are new to the sport your “team” may simply consist of you and your coach, or even your family in some cases. And that’s fine too. 

As time goes on, you will meet new people who can help you along the way. In my case, that’s how it’s been and I’ve loved that. 

Running on athletics track

How should you deal with setbacks?

Well, before I answer this question, I’ll try and give some context as to what these setbacks have been over the years to ensure the story is complete. 

Since I started the sport of athletics in 2017, it’s been a wild ride. Initially, I was so scared to compete that I turned down a lot of races. If you look at my Power of 10 in 2017, there are hardly any races there. At the time I’d only recently started training at my local athletics track (Dacorum AC). I was enjoying training, but the idea of competing was just so unfamiliar to me that I simply rejected the idea of it. It wasn’t until the subject of “English Schools” was brought up. 

Destiny Ogali at English Schools

My experiences with English Schools

I had no clue what this was or how anything worked because I was still so new to the sport. Once I found out what it was and how I wasn’t good enough at that time to even compete at the competition, let alone medal in it, this really lit a fire in me. The following season, I was determined to win it all. That's all I really wanted to get out of that season. Anything else was a bonus. 

I would say this had both a positive and negative effect on the overall experience. The positive was that I was really locked into what I wanted to achieve. There weren't any distractions and the goal was achievable based on what I felt I could do and how I was progressing as the season went on. The negative side of this was that I didn’t quite enjoy the overall experience of English Schools as I was quite closed off and reserved.

I didn’t socialise all that much as I was just so locked in. Some people may say this was a good thing, but given how it all turned out and what happened the following season, I can now safely say that me being the way that I was that season was not actually who I am as an individual. I only realised this as time went on as in the moment, everything I was doing felt right. Outside of track, I was fine. However, from a competitive standpoint, I just wasn’t able to really enjoy being at English Schools. 

My eventual results

In the end, I ended up winning two silver medals in the 100m and 4x100m. To many, this would’ve been seen as a great achievement and now I look back, this serves as a pivotal moment in my career. A lot changed from that moment on which enabled me to be in the position I am now where I’ve gained so much from the sport and that is such a blessing. But at the time, I was disappointed. All I wanted to do was win.

To come up short was not what I was looking for. I thought I had done enough. From the time the gun went off, I really can’t remember much of what happened in that race. I knew my semi-final was a much better race for me as I had run the fastest time going into the final, so I was feeling relatively confident to win it. It just goes to show it’s about what you do on the day. Nevertheless, the greatest joy I had from that day came from being able to share those moments with my family who had come down to support me.

Female sprinter training

Be prepared for a potential SIAB selection!

I will also add that because I was so new to the sport, I was completely unaware that the top two medalists would receive an invitation to SIAB, which was an international competition representing England which would take place following on from English Schools. My parents had booked a holiday for immediately after English Schools before I even competed, as we were completely unaware of what SIAB even was until after I’d won the medal. Either way, I had a hamstring injury that I had sustained after the relay, so I don’t know if I would’ve even been fit to compete. The Herts team staff and England staff were gutted of course as it was somewhat of a strange reason to not compete. It seemed that every athlete knew about this competition except me. 

For what it’s worth, I thoroughly enjoyed my holiday and was able to recover from my injury. I’ll also add that a kind England staff member gave me the England jacket to take with me seeing as I was technically selected to compete. I still have it to this day and in that one season, everything changed. I went from being afraid to compete, to winning two medals at the English Schools, even though I didn’t achieve what I wanted to achieve. That minor setback taught me a vital lesson that I carry with me to this day...

Female athletes hurdling

Enjoy your athletics competitions!

I know a lot of people say this, but it’s true. You’ve gotta enjoy the moment.

These moments don’t come around all that often, so when you're there, enjoy the following...

  1. The atmosphere (when you can)
  2. Being with your teammates
  3. The hotel and the stadium...
  4. ...just enjoy it all!

You want to look back at your time in the sport and think “Wow, that was amazing”. You want to have stories to share with friends, loved ones and family. That's what it’s about. I guess for me anyway. I love track & field and want to make as many memories as possible! 

This ties perfectly into my following season, which was 2019...

Destiny Ogali sprint training

Refueling my fire

I had the same goal once again. To win English Schools. Although saying that, my mindset was different this time...

I didn’t want to do it the same way I had done it the previous year. Yes, I wanted to win, but I also wanted to enjoy it. And that is exactly what I did. Looking back at it right now as I write this, I’m so blessed to have had the opportunity to go again and experience English Schools in its regular format. 

The following year shook the world and changed so many things about life that we often thought would always be normal. Like going to the store, meeting up with friends and going to school every day. In 2020, COVID took over. English Schools did not take place that year meaning my last ever edition would finalise in 2019. Of course, no one could have predicted that this would be the case seeing as I should have had one final opportunity to compete once again. With no knowledge of anything that was to come from 2019, I approached the season differently. I was no longer a U17 athlete as I had moved into the U20 category. This was an adjustment in itself, but it also presented new and exciting opportunities. 

At English Schools this time around I was able to enjoy the experience and everything that came with it. I socialised a lot more, met some cool new people and just completely revamped my approach to the competition as a whole. The setback in this actually came earlier on.

In the heats, I wasn’t quite myself. I didn’t run it very well from top to bottom and was disappointed with my performance. I’d still qualified for the final, but was no longer feeling confident to win it.

Tired male athlete on track

When the simple things matter...

The blessing in disguise came from both a simple phone call and a good night's rest. After my heat, I was so annoyed and frustrated that I got the coach back to the hotel on my own. I just wanted some time to gather my thoughts and get out of the environment of track, as it was all that was on my mind at the time. I got to spend some time with a friend back at the hotel, which took my mind off of things. That was awesome.

I also had a phone call with my future coach, which really restored my confidence. I was given a few relatively simple instructions that would prove to really help me going into the final. After that call, I felt much better. That setback was a huge blessing, simply because it made me realise just how much support was actually available to me, despite me trying to isolate myself.

How my perseverance paid off

Following on from this, I was able to implement the necessary changes and I went on to win English Schools in the 100m & 4x100m. It was such a sweet feeling being able to upgrade from Silver to Gold in the space of one season. This time around, I made sure to make myself available for any potential competitions that would take place afterwards. (I didn’t want to make the same mistakes as before!).

This competition ended up being The Manchester International, where I was able to represent GB for the first time and win a Bronze Medal in the 4x100m. I actually ran my PB in the 100m guest race that day just to top everything off. Competing for GB for the first time was so much fun. Getting the kit, finding out what leg I was going to be running and just being around all the other athletes was amazing. 

Everything that I felt I had lost the previous year was now rectified and as a Christian, I firmly believe that God is for me and not against me. I know that all things will work together for my good. There will always be challenges, but I know that everything will be okay in the end because of my beliefs. 

Sprinter getting ready to race

Adapting and overcoming

Since then, there’s been various setbacks in terms of injuries. In 2021 I had a groin injury, in 2022 I had a lower back and foot injury along with illness and in 2023 I had a hamstring injury that I sustained in training camp in January. These injuries have been frustrating to say the least. But I know and believe that these setbacks are only a part of my journey. I may not always understand why some things happen, but I know that I can learn from these things.

I’m grateful for every setback I’ve ever had, without the pain of disappointment I wouldn’t have been able to appreciate the joy and relief of success. My journey is my own, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. Of course I would never ask to get injured, but in every injury I’ve been able to learn something so that’s a blessing in itself. Instead of asking myself “why is this happening to me?”, I now ask “what is this teaching me?”

My last piece of advice for all athletes...

Whatever your personal setbacks are, just know that they make you stronger. There’s a lot of learning and growth that comes from having those setbacks. So embrace it. It make take time for you to see the fruit, but know that no experience is wasted. 

About Destiny Ogali

Destiny Ogali Neuff Athletic Blogger

Destiny is a sprinting athlete who competes for Harrow AC, and he is incredibly passionate about helping other sprinters and athletes go further in their athletic journeys!

He already has experience in discussing athletics topics with others through The Visions Podcast, where he has sat down and spoken with some great athletes, including Desiree Henry and Aidan Syers! 

You can find Destiny's sprint performances on his Power of 10 profile.

Instagram: @destinyogali & @thevisionspod

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