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Pump Up The Jams: Sprinter Shares What Gets Her Running


Now it's time for our special Olympic feature Pump Up the Jams. That's where we check in with members of Team USA to find out what music they're listening to during training, practice and competition. Twenty-two-year-old Morolake Akinosun has a spot on the U.S. Olympic team for the 4x100-meter relay. She is a Longhorn set to graduate from the University of Texas at Austin this December.

But back in 2011, Akinosun was an optimistic high school teenager who tweeted about her hopes to compete at the 2016 Olympics. Five years later, she's in Rio doing just that. We caught up with her in Texas a few weeks back to hear what songs get her pumped up for the games.


MOROLAKE AKINOSUN: My name is Morolake Akinosun. I compete in track and field, and I run the sprint, specifically the 100 and 200-meter dashes. We train so much and so hard for a race that's not even 11 seconds long. Sometimes it feels just as fast to us as it looks to everyone else watching, but in that moment, in that 11 seconds that we're running, I'm not really thinking about anything. I'm just executing my race and doing what comes naturally to me.


DRAKE: (Rapping) Looking, looking, looking...

AKINOSUN: On a meet day music definitely plays a really big part into just getting my mind right and getting my mind ready. There's a few songs that never leave my playlist. I'm listening to a lot of Drake.


DRAKE: (Rapping) Looking for revenge all summer 16, all summer 16, playing dirty not clean...

AKINOSUN: Just because he's talking about he's trying to get it in all summer '16 and the Olympic Games are summer 2016. People have been dreaming of this year for the last four years. I remember New Year's Day I went up to my family and said happy Olympic year. I didn't even say happy New Year.


UNIDENTIFIED ARTIST: (Singing) Imagine me, loving what I see when the...

AKINOSUN: Sometimes it just takes like listening to some gospel music to have a peace of mind that only God can give you, and I'll probably go to like a basic Kirk Franklin song.


KIRK FRANKLIN: But imagine God whispering in your ear, letting you know that everything that has happened is now.

UNIDENTIFIED ARTIST: (Singing) Gone, gone, gone.

AKINOSUN: But if I'm trying to be pumped up, there's no way that I'm going to listen to gospel.


EMINEM: Because sometimes you just feel tired, feel weak, and when you feel weak, you feel like you want to just give up. But you got to search within you.

AKINOSUN: Eminem's "Till I Collapse" is not only just a meet song for me. It's a workout song for me, too. When I'm doing that, like, last rep on the hill and you feel like you like are going to collapse.


EMINEM: (Rapping) Till I collapse I'm spilling these raps long as you feel them. Till the day that I drop, you'll never say that I'm not killing them because when I am not then I'ma stop pinning them and I am not hip-hop and I'm just not Eminem.

AKINOSUN: Eminem's talking about music in his song but he says that he's going to keep going until he collapses. So I've kind of changed it to benefit myself, but you get the point.


NATE DOGG: (Singing) Till my legs give out...

AUBREY: That was U.S. Olympic sprinter Morolake Akinosun. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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