Meet the UEL graduate going to the Olympics
Jona joins Team GB relay team for Tokyo
Some of the greatest sprinters leave it late. Perhaps Jona Efoloko is in that category. The University of East London (UEL) athlete got the call to compete in Tokyo 2020 just days after finishing his BA (Hons) degree in Marketing and just days before the start of the delayed Olympic Games.
He goes to Japan as a member of the Team GB Men’s 4X100m relay team.
Jona says, “As long as I can remember I’ve always wanted to go to the Olympics. Ever since I won my first championship back in 2013 and watching the London 2012 Olympics, I dreamt about going to the Olympics. It’s the pinnacle of sport, and I always aim for the top.”
Getting to the top hasn’t always been a completely direct route. Jona was born in Congo, moving to the UK in 2005. He grew up in Manchester. “I started to think about rugby league very seriously,” he says. “I’ve always liked team sports.”
Thankfully for British athletics, Jona moved to London in 2018 for UEL. With the University’s support, and his own natural drive and talent, the sprinter who “always liked team sports” is set for one of the iconic team events.
“Relays are usually so fun and filled with adrenaline because it’s usually the final event and everyone is watching,” says Jona. “Relay brings the fastest people together, which I love and adds to the hype of it.
“I’ve been doing relay since I started athletics in 2012. However, I was first introduced to the British athletics junior relay programme in 2017. These relay camps were usually two days where we were taught the skills needed for relay. From relay hand positions to relay check marks. It also allowed those involved to become even closer as a team, which is very essential for relay.”
But he has enjoyed track success as a solo sprinter. Jona became Men’s World U20 Champion at 200 metres when he won the final in 20:48 seconds in 2018, only weeks after completing the ‘A’ levels that brought him to a sports scholarship and Marketing degree at UEL.
Jona says, “I’ve always done business since high school. I’ve dreamt about creating a brand one day, for sport clothing, or a gym. And I believed business was the course which could best help me to gain the skills.”
On 6 August Jona Efoloko might just be doing the business for Team GB in Tokyo.