Momo's Reliable Elements of Progression
By Maureen Ajoku
Many people ask me how I progressed to the position that I am today—a track and field athlete turned bobsledder training for the 2014 Winter Olympics. This spectacle tends to boggle peoples’ mind as well as my own. However, when I really think about the question, I reflect on who I am as a person and what it took for me to get here.
Trusted in God
Psalm 23, a scripture that has resonated with me since I was little reads, “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.” This tells me never to be fearful and know that God is always watching over me. Growing up, my mom emphasized this and taught me and my sisters the power of faith. In hard times, she always referred to her dad who always told her to pray the Rosary and have faith that God will see you through. I applied this to my transition to bobsled and let go of all unknown outcomes. I trusted in God’s plan and trusted that He will guide me through this journey.
Believed in Myself
It is often difficult not to be discouraged in a world filled with so much criticism. As much encouragement as I received from bobsledding and athletics in general, I had a fare share of opposition. Fortunately, I was taught to have the ear to listen but always maintain confidence. I learned to respect others’ opinions but still had the courage to believe in myself and my abilities as an athlete. In Mother Teresa’s Anyway poem it reads, “What you spend years building, someone could destroy overnight; Build anyway.” You have to be able to know your worth, continue to work hard and believe that you will achieve your goals no matter how much the world pushes against you.
I am always seeking a challenge and a greater level of accomplishment. I achieved so much in track and field but the daring athlete in me wanted more. Bobsled requires me to be a lot more focused and on top of my game than ever before. Previously smaller factors become magnified. In bobsled, you must be able to sacrifice your time, energy and life to something much bigger than yourself. Given the intensity of bobsledding, it can be fairly easy to become mentally drained. Therefore, it is important to always remember the answer to the question, 'why.' Why do I do this? I asked myself this question many times especially during tough workouts or when my fingers and toes are in pain from extremely freezing weather. I then think about what I have overcome thus far and the young souls looking up to me seeking a good example. I think about myself and that pinnacle moment of opportunity I could get to represent my country on the world’s largest stage.
The love and support from my sisters helped sustained me throughout many trials during my rookie bobsled season and my whole athletic career as a whole. They are my support team and my biggest fans. My sisters keep me grounded and remind me that I will always have a friend to confide in no matter what. The collective strength and determination that we share also encourages me even more to be the best athlete and person that I can be. My little sister is pursuing a Bachelors degree in criminal justice, while my older sister is pursuing a Masters in medical physiology. Sure, we walk different paths but I find comfort in knowing that they too dared to pursue their dreams despite all odds.
Maureen Ajoku learned about the sport of bobsled in 2012 from current competitor Dakaria Kongela, and she thought the sport was crazy when she took her first ride down the track. Ajoku holds a B.A. in Sociology with a minor in Education in Applied Psychology from Santa Barbara, where she competed in jumps and heptathlon. Ajoku's parents, Julius and Nnenna, were born in Nigeria and came to America in their early 20s. She is one of three daughters, and is an avid sports fan. Follow @momosaidit on Twitter to learn more about Ajoku's bobsled journey.
*Athlete blog entries are the sole opinion of each individual author and may not be representative of the USBSF or its athletes.