The recent rise of Nigeria’s latest sprint sensation Favour Ofili did not just start in 2021. A lot has been put behind the scenes since she joined Louisiana State University and teamed up with Dennis Shaver, who has tutored her until this point.
Despite suffering the ignominy of not competing at the Tokyo Olympics, under Shaver’s tutelage, Ofili rose above such disappointment to win three medals (200m Bronze, 4x400m Gold, 4x100m Bronze) at the World Junior U20 Championships in Nairobi in 2021.
More recently, Ofili has continued to grow in leaps and bounds. During the indoor season this year, the Nigerian International clocked an African and National record of 22.46 over the 200m.
Ofili was currently the world leader over the 200m when she broke the Nigerian four-year 200m record by clocking 21.96 at the Tom Jones Invitational. We talked with her coach about her potential and what he hopes she achieves this season.
Coach Dennis Shaver, photo courtesy of USTFCCCA
1. What do you think makes Favour Ofili unique?
Coach Shaver: Favour is young yet very mature in thoughts and has a deep desire to improve.
2. Have you coached other Nigerian athletes at LSU in your career, and if yes, what makes her stand out?
Coach Shaver: I have not coached any Nigerian athletes at LSU.
3. Having picked her up as a 400m athlete, what qualities made you think she would excel over the 200m and 100m?
Coach Shaver: During our training sessions and testing, I decided to work on speed and speed endurance as a top priority in her first year.
4. Ofili talked a bit about being disappointed with not being able to compete at the Tokyo Olympics; how were you able to psych her up after the ordeal?
Coach Shaver: It was not very difficult; she understands that we cannot worry about the past and focus on the goals and process of achieving the goals, not dwell on the past.
Favour Ofili, photo courtesy of LSU Track & Field
5. Ofili later went on to win three medals at the World Junior Champs in Nairobi last August; what did you make of the performance at the Championships?
Coach Shaver: It was awesome. I was very proud of how she prepared and competed. I think she felt she had some things to prove after the disappointment in Tokyo.
6. With her adaptability in all the sprints events, which one do you think is her strongest?
Coach Shaver: Currently, it is 200m. We are working on the 100 as a priority.
7. Some weeks back, Ofili ran 21.96 to break Nigeria’s 200m record. Did you expect her to run that fast this early in the season?
Coach Shaver: I was not totally surprised as the conditions were excellent. But honestly, I was expecting more like 22.20.
8. What targets have you set for her to achieve by the end of the season?
Coach Shaver: We focus more on the process than the end result. She still has room for improvement in acceleration, which will take more time to develop.