By Oli Dickson Jefford
Essex speedster Emmanuel Oyinbo-Coker says a second-place finish at a prestigious national awards ceremony can catapult him to even greater heights in 2023.
The Grays star, 21, surged to Commonwealth T45-47 100m gold in Birmingham this summer in front of a raucous home crowd - and thrilled family members who had made the trip from London.
Another victory at the prestigious World Para-Athletics Grand Prix in Dubai further highlighted his potential in a year that saw him named as one of 10 nominees for SportsAid’s prestigious One-to-Watch Award.
And in a star-studded ceremony in London, Oyinbo-Coker was over the moon to finish in second-place and be recognised as one of Britain’s brightest sporting prospects.
He said: “To come runner-up is like saying I’m one of the very best athletes in the country, so it’s a really good feeling.
🏆 ONE-TO-WATCH AWARD 🏆
It’s time to #CelebrateTheNext with a video of our top 🔟 athletes and their amazing achievements throughout 2022 🤩
The winner of this year’s One-to-Watch Award will be revealed by @xxEbobxx….she won the accolade when it was last presented in 2019 👏 pic.twitter.com/tJM0KkptKO
— SportsAid (@TeamSportsAid) November 17, 2022
“SportsAid has been phenomenal for the years that they have been supporting me. Even the opportunities that I’ve provided, the people that I’ve met through SportsAid, it’s been really good. To be here with amazing athletes throughout the country is a really good feeling.
“2022 has been a very long season and when I look at it from the point when I started my first competition to when I finished, there’s a massive difference.
“There’s a lot of work that’s been put into it and it all was channelled from the previous year.
“I unfortunately wasn’t able to qualify for the Paralympic Games and it gave me an eye-opener that I really need to focus and work hard, and just nail down on my training and my focus, and try and reach my goals. It was a really good season and I’m just looking forward to the next season.”
SportsAid’s One-to-Watch Award has gained a strong reputation for identifying the best up-and-coming prospects in Britain since its launch in 2006.
Previous winners, including Tom Daley OBE, Hollie Arnold MBE, Courtney Tulloch and Alex Yee MBE, have already amassed over 50 senior medals from Olympic and Paralympic Games, World and European Championships, as well as Commonwealth Games, to establish themselves as household names.
Oyinbo-Coker certainly holds lofty ambitions for his own future with multiple appearances and titles on para-athletics' biggest stages his long-term target.
📸 PHOTO ALBUM 📸
A big thank you to the SportsAid athletes, ambassadors, partners and supporters who helped bring #CelebrateTheNext to life yesterday. The charity is proud to be shining a spotlight on Britain's most talented young sports stars!
▶️ https://t.co/Qt306kXT7r pic.twitter.com/D8W6YGMveO
— SportsAid (@TeamSportsAid) November 18, 2022
But he also wants to set a positive example and act as an inspiration for stars who have been on a similar path to him.
He added: “I want to be able to go to three major world events. Three Paralympic Games, three World Championships, three European Championships and hopefully three Commonwealth Games. To win all of them would be nice.
“That’s my main goal and I also want to be able to inspire other people, other people who might have been in similar scenarios to me before I started athletics.
“They didn’t know what they necessarily wanted to do or they weren’t able to do something because they weren’t motivated enough, I just want to be that sort of figure they can look up to and think ‘this guy’s done this, I should be able to do that as well.’”
SportsAid’s Celebrate the Next event, kindly supported by Royal Bank of Canada, was hosted at Sea Containers House in London thanks to Hogarth Worldwide. Please visit www.sportsaid.org.uk to find out more.