Cindy Ofili is an American-born British track and field athlete, who specializes in Sprint Hurdling. Born to a Nigerian father and British mother, she had the choice to represent the U.S.A, Nigeria or Great Britain and chose with great pride to represent Great Britain. She is an Olympic Finalist having finished fourth in the 100m hurdles final at the 2016 Olympics in Rio, missing out on the bronze medal by a heart breaking two one hundredths of a second. In 2015 she ran a personal best time for the 100m hurdles of 12.60 secs which placed her third on the all-time list of British record holders, then at the 2015 British championships Cindy won the silver Medal qualifying her for the World Championships in Beijing later that year. As a collegiate athlete, she also had an amazing career setting a number of records in both hurdling and sprinting as well as finishing all American in 6 of the races she competed in.
Cindy told us that she didn’t start running seriously till the age of 14, as she was involved in other sports that she enjoyed more, so at the age of 14 it was more her ability than her passion that made her gravitate towards track but within a year there had been so many challenges and moments that told Cindy that maybe this running thing wasn’t really going to work out for her. Cindy said she went through her childhood often wanting to make people happy, including her teammates.
Excelling in lots of sports, meant that there was always someone counting on her and that brought a lot of pressure. She told us that at times that pressure was often too much and at the most crucial times she would fail and feel like she had let everyone down. From false starts to falls in big races there were so many setbacks. On top of all that, Cindy recalls she had an awkward running style and that her technique was certainly not text book by any stretch of the imagination. Sometimes in the world of sport and in life in general others can decide that when things aren’t perfect as everyone else sees things then maybe they just aren’t meant to be and it takes a whole different level of determination to believe that you can be successful against all odds and Cindy certainly had that.
Despite her determination to succeed though things eventually came to a crossroads and Cindy made a decision to quit track and focus her energies elsewhere but at just the right time as is often the case with God’s plans, a number of important people in her life, including her coach and her parents, who have always been 2 of her biggest supporters, saw something in her that she didn’t see herself. As a result they weren’t about to let that happen and insisted she should continue. More importantly, Cindy felt that God was telling her in her heart that she shouldn’t quit and that she had to keep pushing until she reached her full potential, this was a dream he had placed in her heart for a reason and it was up to her to not give up on it so easily.
Having grown up with a strong faith in God, Cindy told us, she was always aware God was there and had a great plan for her. She said “I realized God had given me this gift for a reason and it was something I needed to develop but at the time I didn’t see that I would ever be running at the Olympics. Sometimes you can see a picture of where you might be or what you might become but God doesn’t always show you the whole picture.” Cindy said that once she made that decision to trust God and fully commit, her career took off. She found that from that point onwards things were different. Now she would always learn from every setback, instead of being destroyed and broken. She could also guarantee, without fail, that she would come back stronger, following up any failure with amazing successes.
Cindy said her hope for you all in sharing her story, was that many of you would realize, like she did, that you don’t have to perform to please people. It can often feel like that’s the case especially with all the pressures you face as kids and with things like Social media and everyone watching your every move and having an opinion on it. She wanted you all to know though that God is always pleased with you, whether you win or lose whether you fail or succeed and that no matter what you do, as long as you give it your best, you can be happy with yourself too.
Cindy is currently coming back from the setback of a serious injury but importantly, still trusting she will prevail in all that she does and encouraging others through her journey. She has her heart set on competing at the Worlds in 2019 before targeting the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo and it’s going to be such a privilege to be a part of following her journey.