Patience Jumbo-Gula won a silver medal with Irelands’ 4x100m relay team at last year’s World Junior Championships and is a Leaving Cert student at St Vincent’s Dundalk. Here she shares her top five tips for staying active
What motivates me is my family and my friends. My parents are so supportive. They always tell me ‘just believe in yourself, you can do it’.
My dad drives me to training and always says he doesn’t want me to miss the opportunities he didn’t have back home in Africa. He was very sporty but he didn’t have the opportunities in Nigeria where he grew up. I remember him saying ‘this is the land that my children are going to prosper in’. He always says, ‘every disappointment is a blessing and you learn.’
I think it’s also really important to have supportive friends and to surround yourself with people that motivate you. Not all my friends are sporty. Athletes probably understand more what you have to do but non-athlete friends can still understand and support and motivate you.
Join a sports club or class. You’ll make such great friends. Having supportive friends around you always helps you to feel better and I get so much support from my friends in athletics. And I know athletics clubs offer a range of programme for all levels so you can get active with the guidance of qualified coaches and according to research runner live 3 years longer than non runners!
You’ll have so much fun and feel good when you’re doing sport and being active. It makes you feel good even if you don’t perform as well as you hoped. You always get that ‘Wow, I did something!’ and I think that’s so good for your mental health.
Be like Serena!
Be comfortable in whatever you wear when you’re training and competing. Wear what you want and be free. If I look good, I feel good, and if I feel good, I compete good. Sometimes when I’m competing, I like to draw in my eyebrows or do a little make-up, just to make me feel good. Like ‘Yes! I can do this!’
There’s no barriers
Don’t let anyone stop you doing a sport and being active. There’s no reason you can’t try out any activity you want do. If it’s football you want, do football. If it’s athletics, yoga or swimming just do that. Put your mind to it, do it well and you’ll enjoy it.
It’s great for your mind
Go out and exercise, whether it’s in a sport like athletics or a football team because, whatever you do, you’ll feel better physically and mentally. Exams or work can be stressful but getting out and exercising with your friends will really help you with that.
Patience Jumbo-Gula was speaking at the announcement of Irish Life Health as an official partner to Athletics Ireland, backing a sport that delivers on health, wellness and lifelong activity