Local athlete Gina Akpe-Moses has been named The Irish Times/Sport Ireland Sportswoman of the Month, the second Dundalk-based athlete to take the honour in 2020.
The athlete from St Gerald’s AC in Dundalk had spoken out in strong terms about the Black Lives Matter movement throughout June and with the vast majority of sport in the country has been halted since the Covid-19 breakout in March, Akpe-Moses was honoured for her words that have resonated away from the track.
The sprinter, who is studying at the University of East London, told The Irish Times last month, “I wish I could travel back in time and eradicate the idea of racism. Everyone’s life would be so different, everything would be a lot better. But I can’t do that.
“I have to live through the pain and try my best to make a difference, because I don’t want to raise my children in a world where I have to tell them to be careful just walking down the street or to be afraid of the police – who are meant to protect us,” she said in an interview with Gavin Cummiskey for the newspaper.
Akpe-Moses was born in Nigeria and moved to Dundalk as a young child where she took up athletics. Having turned 21-years-old earlier this year, she has already achieved much in the sport including winning gold in the 2017 European Under 20 championships – aged just 18.
Speaking about her role as a public figure and using her platform to talk about about racism in society, the athlete said she was not concerned about how she may be viewed in a commercial sense.
“I feel like it would be selfish not to speak out about what’s happening because I am a black person who has a bit of a platform,” she said, dismissing any worries that she could suffer, not least in terms of attracting sponsors, for speaking out,” she said.
“I am not concerned. If you’re going to try to reprimand me for speaking out about such a big issue then I don’t want to be part of your establishment or a part of your company.”
Akpe-Moses has now reset her sights on next year’s delayed Tokyo Olympics, with training back underway in preparation for that. Paralympic cyclist Eve McCrystal, along with Katie George-Dunleavy, won the same Irish Times/Sport Ireland award in January of this year.