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Alowonle to compete in Commonwealth Games this week

RJ Alowonle will compete at the Commonwealth Games in Scotland starting Tuesday. (Submitted photo)

RJ Alowonle took his speed to the international stage last month.

He traveled across the pond to race for the first time. And while the country was different, the results remained the same.

Alowonle is fast on any continent.

The 2012 Park grad finished second in the 400-meter hurdles at the Nigerian Nationals in late June, finishing the final in 50.73 seconds.

The race came just a couple weeks after Alowonle placed fifth in the same event at the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships in Eugene, Ore. That’s not much time off between major events. But Alowonle had a plan of attack for his first international endeavor.

“My coach and I knew it was going to be an experience, but we knew that if I tried to take care of my body, tried to adjust to the time change and just run a clean race, that I could place well,” Alowonle said. “That’s exactly what I did. I just executed my race.”

Alowonle’s time in Nigeria was faster than the 51.06 he ran at the NCAAs, but fell short of his personal record -- a 50.11 he posted in the NCAA preliminaries this summer.

Still, Alowonle was excited about his performance in Nigeria, which generated momentum for the hurdler as he heads to the Commonwealth games in Glasgow, Scotland this week. The first round of the 400-meter hurdles takes place Tuesday.

“I think it’s going to be a wonderful experience,” Alowonle said. “I’m so blessed to have this opportunity.”

Alowonle hopes to execute three races in Scotland, meaning he would compete in the event final next week.

“I want to take the first round and run what I need to run to get to the next round ... and we’re figuring the second round is probably going to be the hardest round,” Alowonle said. “It’s a true semifinal. A lot of people are going to be fighting to make that final. Because if you make the semifinal and don’t make the final, you know you’re going to be mad. A lot of people are going to be fighting to make that last round. I’m really going to try to focus on each race, take it one race at a time and see what I can do.”

One race at a time. That seems to be Alowonle’s mantra, regardless of the competition.

He takes that same tactical approach when it comes to the 2016 Olympics. Yes, it’s in the back of his mind and he does think about competing in the Rio games -- it’s hard not to when he’s currently the second fastest 400-meter hurdler in Nigeria -- but he refuses to let his 2016 goal consume him on a daily basis.

“You never want to lose sight of your goals and for a track athlete, going to the olympics and getting olympic gold in your respective event is the pinnacle,” Alowonle said. “But I’m a person that is really big on taking care of the details and focusing on the moment and enjoying the moment.

“So although it is in the back of my mind, I’m not letting it consume me, because I see a lot of people let their end goal consume them, and they either don’t enjoy the process of getting there or they forget the details along the way to get there and they don’t find the success that they wish they had. So yes it’s in the back of my mind, but I’m just trying to take it each and every day, each and every race, each and every practice. And knowing that I’m working toward that, knowing that each opportunity I have each and every day is going to work toward that.”