For the Fort Bend Star
Gabe Oladipo has his sights set on the summer games in Tokyo in 2020.
Oladipo is a senior at Hightower High School and is currently ranked number 1 in the nation in the discus in the 17-18 age group. He reached number 1 by winning the Coaches Coalition National Championships in July with a throw of 209-00.75 feet. Oladipo also won the shot put competition with a toss of 61-11 feet.
Gabriel Oladipo, Gabe’s father and personal coach, was born in Nigeria and came here to play football at Washington State University, where he lettered in 1990. Gabriel was not drafted but spent time with the Oakland Raiders and Arizona Cardinals of the NFL, and the London Monarchs of the World Football League.
Gabriel encouraged Gabe (6-3, 250) to try all sports and he may be the first Hightower student to have participated in four varsity sports. In football, he played tight end and defensive end, in basketball he is a wing player, and in baseball he pitched and played first base.
“Baseball may be his best sport as his fastball has been clocked in the low 90’s,” Gabriel said.
“For now, I have given up baseball because I was concerned about hurting my arm with pitching and then throwing both the discuss and the shot put, plus the baseball and track seasons overlap, so I was missing a baseball game each week,” Gabe said. “I would like to play basketball this season, and maybe a little baseball.”
Being a baseball pitcher may help Gabe in both the discus and the shot put. “When you are on the mound, its only you and the batter. If you are nervous you are not going to be successful. It’s the same when you are in the discus circle. You have to be relaxed, particularly if you scratch your first two throws,” Gabe said.
While there is one basic technique for throwing the discus, each thrower has their own unique touches.
“There are a lot of factors such as arm and body strength, hand speed, even the size of your hands,” Gabe said. “Mental factors also play a big part. You can go from 5th place to first on a single throw and back to fifth after the next guy throws.”
On his 209 throw, Gabe was just trying to beat 200. “I was really relaxed and was a little disappointed because a gust of wind came up and knocked the discus down a little,” Gabe said. “I thought it was going to go farther.”
In high school competition, the shot put weighs 12 pounds and the discus 1.6 kilograms (3 pounds 8 ounces). In college and international competitions, the shot put weighs 16 pounds and the discus 2 kilo grams (4 pounds 6.5 ounces). Gabe has trained with the 2 kilo gram discus and has thrown over 180 feet in practice. The Olympics qualifying distance was about 210 feet this year.
“The 2K discus is bigger but I am comfortable with it,” Gabe said. “It actually feels better in my hands than the 1.6K. It helps to have large hands.”
In 2015, Gabe qualified for the World Youth Championships in Cali, Colombia. He finished in ninth place in the shot put with a toss of 55.98 feet. Fellow American Adrian Piperi of The Woodlands High School finished in sixth place with a toss of 58.81. Piperi and Gabe, along with Blake Kuithe of Cinco Ranch High School and John Barber of Travis High School are all nationally ranked throwers in both the discus and shot put, and they push each other to do better.
“I was the first person to beat Adrian in a competition, and he was the first person to beat me,” Gabe said.
“I traveled with Gabe and Piperi to Colombia and when we arrived they gave us a subcompact rental car. I am 6-4, 295 and the two boys are close to that, so it took us a while getting into and out of the car,” Gabriel said.
In the AAU Junior Olympics held in Humble in June, Gabe finished first in the discus with a throw of 192.06 feet, and second in the shot put with a toss 61.00-05 feet. He then followed that up with two firsts at the Coaches Coalition National Championships in July.
Gabe has many colleges interested in him. Some of the schools are LSU, University of Houston, Rice University, Texas Tech, Texas A&M, University of Miami, and UTSA. Gabe would like to study pre-medicine wherever he goes.
“It’s been crazy at our house. We’ve had coaches in the house until 10:30 p.m. many nights,” Gabriel said.
The next four years will be a blur as Gabe selects a college and looks forward to the World Championships in 2017 (London) and in 2019, the US Olympic Trials in 2020, and hopefully the Olympics in Tokyo in 2020.