Olympic gold medalist, Falilat, and her husband, Prof. Seun Omotayo, share their love story with Punch.
Where did you both meet for the first time?
Seun: We met for the first time at Ogun State Government House.
What year was that?
Seun: It was in 2004.
Would you describe the encounter as love at first sight?
Falilat: It was definitely not love at first sight, as it was a long drawn affair that spanned some years.
What attracted you to him?
Falilat: I believe it is his personality. My husband is the gentlest man I have ever met. His loving personality attracted me to him.
Seun: Her confidence among her peers as an athlete.
How did you know she was the one for you?
Seun: My inner self. I just knew she was the one for me.
Was she the first lady you proposed to?
Where there times you doubted if she truly loves you especially at the beginning of your relationship?
Seun: Never, my wife and I have a strong bond.
How long was your courtship?
Seun: In our case, the period of courtship cannot be quantified.
Did you have disagreements while you courted?
Falilat: Yes there were disagreements but we were able to put them behind us.
Who is the first to apologize when you have a misunderstanding?
Seun: The first to apologize depends on the circumstance of the misunderstanding.
At what point in your relationship did you decide to marry her?
Seun: At the divinely appointed time.
How did you propose to her?
Seun: I remember vividly that it happened when I needed to issue her a cheque. I wrote Chief Falilat Ogunkoya-Omotayo, MON. When she received it, she simply smiled and got the message.
Did she accept your proposal immediately?
Seun: I said she simply smiled on that day and off we went to a get-together.
What gifts did you buy for her while you courted?
Seun: I bought her jewelry, but she loves apples and celebration of birthdays. Hence, I made it a point of duty to always buy her apples whenever I went to a supermarket. I also ensure that I mark her birthday every year no matter how little.
Falilat: I love apples. My husband would complain about my love for it and yet still buy it for me. I love him for that.
What are your pet names?
Falilat: He calls me Fali and I call him Prof. But nowadays I call him Baba, he still calls me Fali.
What would you want to change in her?
Seun: Honestly there is nothing to change in her absolutely. My wife is simply the best. She is an excellent wife.
How does your husband cope with your popularity?
Falilat: He is happy about my popularity; because it is positive. We both have never been involved in any damage control at any time since we got married. There is nothing negatively critical to contend with or manage.
What do you like about your wife?
Seun: I like her confidence and above all, she knows what I like to eat. She is an excellent cook.
Falilat: Overtime, I studied my husband especially in the area of food. Back then, I would ask him if he was hungry and he would say no. The next minute, he is asking for his food. What I now do is to get his food partly prepared even if he says he isn’t hungry.
What can you say about your marriage now?
Falilat: Our marriage is a continuous work in progress.
What has been the bedrock of your marriage?
Seun: I believe that would be the effective management of our individual differences.
Is your husband as fashionable and sports-loving as you are?
Falilat: My husband is not a fashion lover, but he is sports loving. He says I am more fashionable and that I know the latest wears. He is rather on the conservative side.
What kind of things appeal to him?
Falilat: He loves cerebral and issue-based discussions. He also loves good music, culture and tradition-based activities particularly the popular Ojude Oba festival. He is usually at home in social and gathering of friends in a relaxed atmosphere.
What role has sports played in your marriage?
Seun: Sports reinforced all other considerations.
What sports is he interested in?
Falilat: He trained for Physical Education at Ibadan; he milled through different sports. He virtually knows something about every sports and almost everything about a few sports. He particularly enjoys soccer and track & field mainly. I should add that he is a poor swimmer.
Do you know your husband’s hobbies?
Falilat: His hobbies are traveling and aerobic dancing. But traveling in Nigeria has become very dangerous due to the conditions of the roads now. This has affected his penchant for traveling.
How are you coping with your busy schedule and marriage?
Falilat: When I am home, I am at home and when I am on the field, I am on the field. Now that I am no longer running, I have more time to cook because as an athlete you cannot eat outside, you have to cook. You must watch your cholesterol. Sometimes, I go to mama put, I do that in the off season but when you are in the season, you must watch what you eat.
There are beautiful stories of athletes married to their managers. What can you say about that?
Falilat: My experience was okay because it made the job very easy, you train and come back. But the athletes of nowadays, some of them marry their teammates because it’s very difficult for other people to understand you and your job, people around you make the job very easy and they understand. When you are a top athlete in the world, if you marry the person on the track with you, whenever you travel, both of you can go together since you do the same thing.
What lessons did you learn from your previous union and how have they helped in your present relationship?
Falilat: I always say that when certain things happen you have to learn from the experience and move on. Marriage is the most difficult thing in this world. I am from a polygamous family, my father had many wives. If you came to my house back then, you wouldn’t believe that we were from different mothers. That made me to understand that if my first marriage didn’t work, I just have to work hard to ensure the success of the second one with God’s grace and continuous prayers. That was a lesson I took away from the experience.