Ade Adepitan is known to my generation as the legend from CBBC shows such as Xchange and Desperados. But as I found out today that is just the tip of the iceberg. He’s an Olympic athlete, TV personality, MBE, and all around cool dude. Today he attended the University of Gloucestershire’s FutureYou week to inspire those of us who are so unmotivated we can’t get out of bed in the morning. He puts us to shame with his dedication, persistence and zest for life.
Ade Adepitan says, “I think it’s [future you week] is great. I think it’s really important actually, because I suppose I was really lucky when I was growing up in that I knew what I was going do and what I wanted to do with my life pretty early on. I think I took it for granted that most people would be the same but I know now that for a lot of people they sometimes need a little bit of directing and…. I hate that word but… inspiring to find where they wanna go. So if I can help do that, then great!”
Contracting Polio when he was just 15 months old, he faced struggle after struggle as a disabled, black Nigerian heading to a mainstream school in East London. And this was before his mother decided to dress him in a pink and checkered, flared suit, complete with ruffled dress shirt. With cages surrounding his weak legs, he spoke of his days at school, focusing on the time when saving a goal in a football match sent him soaring up the food chain, and made him realise how sport can bring people together. It was then he knew he wanted to be an athlete, and just a few years later when discovering wheelchair basketball, he knew that it was his calling.
Ade continues, “I think in life, I’ve learnt this from experience gone are the days of having one job. There have been stats that show people now have six careers in a lifetime. And I think it’s really cool because I’m so passionate about so many different things and so to have the opportunity to constantly try out different things is great.”
Ade is the definition of passion and tenacity. Being rejected from the GB wheelchair basketball team five times in his fifteen years of training yet still managing to get up, dust himself off and continue to push for his goal. He succeeded in April 2000, making the GB team and his dreams finally a reality. Since then he hasn’t stopped and is quickly becoming a household name for not just his sport but TV presenting as well.
“I am driven by passion, I love what I do and I find things that I love doing, but also there is something really nice, something poetic and beautiful about trying to be the best that you can be”, says Ade.
He is now embarking on a new challenge of writing a series of children’s books featuring a disabled protagonist which will be out in May this year. He is also currently presenting a programme airing on the BBC called ‘New York – America’s Busiest City’ and will be heading off to Africa soon for a 4 part series with the BBC covering over 12 countries within the continent.
Ade is always on the lookout for more opportunities and challenges to say yes to. “We live in such an exciting world, there are so many cool things out there, so many cool people to meet, so many cool things to do, I just wanna do everything”, he tells me.
Ade’s message to the University of Gloucestershire students is, “You gotta have this self belief and all of us have it. We are all stronger than we think. We don’t give ourselves credit for how strong we are. You don’t really find out how strong you are until you challenge yourself.”