Medical student Kaesi Opara is making rapid progress at Fitzwilliam College and will compete in the British Indoor Athletics Championships this weekend.
The 23-year-old only took up athletics in 2017, his third year at Fitzwilliam, and qualified for the national championships by clocking 6.88 seconds at the Newham & Essex Beagles 60-metres Open Sprint Series on 22 January.
Kaesi (Medicine 2014) told fitz.cam.ac.uk: “I was surprised when I did my time, but I always knew I had it in me.
“I had it as a goal to make the British Championships qualifying standard for any of my events. I couldn’t ask for a better way to start the season.”
Kaesi is currently on a General Practice placement in Colchester, Essex, and has had to find a playing field to train on in his lunch break, due to the lack of an alternative. He has received £300 of funding from the Fitzwilliam Student Opportunities Fund to help him take his place on the start line in Glasgow.
Kaesi hopes to improve the personal best he set last month in qualifying for the event, and enjoy more than one seven-second race in Glasgow.
“A good weekend would be a personal best,” he said.
“I’d like to get through the heats and run well. If I can do that, and go all the way to Glasgow to run not just one race but two, it will be a good weekend.”
He will be representing Woodford Green Essex Ladies/Cambridge University in the heats of the 60m, which start at 12:55 at Emirates Arena, which is in the same complex as the Sir Chris Hoy Velodrome and opposite Celtic Park football stadium.
Kaesi stands at 6ft 3ins (1.90 metres) and plays football for Fitzwilliam, as a goalkeeper. He returned to football this season, having taken a break of late to concentrate on athletics.
He added: “There’s nothing more enjoyable than playing in goal. It’s my personality – I like having full agency. It’s similar to sprinting, where you can’t make any mistakes.”
He believes his indoor times this season bode well for the outdoor season, which begins in late spring, and his favourite events, the 100m and 200m. His personal bests are 10.78 seconds and 21.90 seconds, respectively.
As a relative novice in athletics, Kaesi has plenty of potential, but he also has to juggle his studies and medical career.
Kaesi is still to decide his medical specialism, but he is keen on being a sports doctor at some point.
He added: “I’d like to work with a football team, or British Athletics. To get into it there’s so many routes – by being a GP, an orthopaedic surgeon – so I haven’t decided what kind of doctor I want to be yet!”