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Ade Adepitan On The Qualities Needed To Succeed As A Paralympian

In this exclusive interview, courtesy of our friends at Champions Speakers, Paralympian and TV legend Ade Adepitan reveals his proudest personal achievement and what he would advise his younger self. The Bronze medallist is a regular on British television, starring in several BBC documentaries and sports broadcasts Ade is a natural entertainer. 

Do not miss this exciting Q&A with one of the most famous Paralympians in the world, Ade Adepitan!

Which personal qualities are needed to succeed as a Paralympian? 

“The main quality, I would say, is resilience and the ability to work hard. I think those two come hand in hand. 

“Resilience, because you have to be able to deal with setbacks. Nothing’s ever going to be straightforward, there are always going to be ups and downs, and you’ve got to work hard. 

“Talent is important. You’re not going to get there without talent, but I think talent is that last little bit – it’s that last 5% – that gets you to the very top. [Talent] helps you win medals and become successful, but by the time you get to Paralympic level where you’re competing against the very best, everyone has talent! 

“What separates the very best are those people who are able to go the extra mile, who are able to do that little bit extra, who have that insatiable hunger to always want to be better. 

“They’re never satisfied because you always think ‘I can be better’; those are the people that become really successful at a Paralympic level.”

Can you describe a time where you faced hardship and how did you overcome the challenge? 

“I think everyone in their lives experiences hardship, it is not mutually exclusive to people in sport or TV or the media industry, we all face it. 

“And it’s also kind of what you consider ‘hardship’, because I look at some of the things I’ve gone through and think they’re trivial compared to the experiences of people I’ve met around the world!

“Probably the obvious one for me to pick is my journey into sport and trying to become a Paralympian. It took me 15 years to make it into the GB squad.

I was cut from the national team – if I can remember off the top of my head – in total seven times and it’s really difficult to be told that you’re not good enough constantly for a decade and a half. It has a huge impact on your psyche and on your confidence.

“I guess my philosophy has always been, the way you achieve things is by chasing your passion.

It’s great to win medals, it’s great to go to the Paralympics, but I don’t need those big things to love playing wheelchair basketball or to love playing sport. I can just go to the park and play it with random people from the public and come away feeling fulfilled and happy! 

“So, I think it’s about finding something that personally ignites that fire within you, that’s how you overcome those hard times by finding that passion. 

“Another really good tip, I’d say, is to surround yourself with enablers, surround yourself with positive people, people who believe in you.

We waste so much of our time surrounding ourselves with people who hold us back, you need to cut those people out your life and keep people close to you who help and enable you.”

What is your proudest achievement? 

“Proudest achievement… I would say, it’s still early days! 

“Me and my wife, we had a baby boy this year, and that was incredible. He’s eleven months old, so we’ll wait and see in the next 15-20 years’ time to see if I have done a good job! He might turn around and say, ‘yeah, okay, you are lousy parents’ or whatever, so I’m hoping he will be one of my proudest achievements. 

“I suppose right now, I still pinch myself that I’m able to have a TV career. Realistically, it’s an industry that is so difficult to break into and not only is it difficult to break into, but it’s also difficult to stay in!

The numbers and the statistics on Black people especially leaving the industry is high because there’s a ceiling, and there’s so much frustration that you can’t progress.

“I still don’t think I’ve scratched the surface of what I’m going to achieve and what I want to achieve!”

If you could give your younger self one piece of advice, what would it be?

“I get asked this question a lot!

“Two things. Always go for your dreams and never allow the fear of failure to stop you from going for your dreams. The next one is surround yourself, and I touched on this earlier, surround yourself with positive people. 

“It’s so important that you surround yourself with people who make a difference in your life, who make you feel good and support you. People who support you when down, help you mentally and physically because we can waste so much time with negative people.

“We waste so much time with people we think are cool, but realistically, they’re just sucking the energy out of you and sucking the energy out of the room.

“And finally, never give up!”

This exclusive interview with Ade Adepitan was conducted by Chris Tompkins