We chat to sprinter Nickel Ashmeade, a member of the Jamaican quartet that stormed to 4x100m relay victory at the 2013 IAAF World Championships, about his life at work, rest and play.
Ashmeade is also in contention in the 2014 100m and 200m Diamond Races and won over the shorter distance at the IAAF Diamond League meeting in Glasgow on Friday.
NICKEL AT WORK
What is your favourite training session?
Nickel Ashmeade: I enjoy the 300m training session. It gives me a great idea of exactly where my strength and speed endurance level is at, and I also I like to feel pain when training. If I don’t feel at least a little pain, that means I am not working hard enough.
What is your least favourite training session?
NA: I hate doing anything over 350m, but I have to do it for background training.
What are your three favourite things about being an athlete?
NA: One, I get to travel the world. Two, I get the opportunity to experience a different culture, which enables me to try their food and gain more knowledge about the culinary industry. Three, I get the chance to meet new people.
What is your favourite music to train to?
NA: I mostly choose my music dependent on my mood, but usually I would say gospel or a little bit of reggae/R&B.
What is the worst thing about being an athlete?
NA: I don’t get to spend enough time with my family, friends or on my personal life.
NICKEL AT REST
Describe your perfect non-training day.
NA: Being at home in the kitchen, creating a new recipe and doing it well without any mistakes. In addition, I would spend quality time with the people I love, whether in person or on the phone.
What is your favourite stress reliever?
NA: Watching a movie or sleep.
Where is your favourite place to relax?
NA: There is no place like home. It’s quiet, comfortable and most of all it keeps me focused.
What TV shows do you like to relax to?
NA: While relaxing I like to watch the cooking channel, food channel, HGTV because I am always driven to learn new things and in the process gain extra knowledge that will assist me in the future. I also watch movie and sport channels, but not so often.
NICKEL AT PLAY
When did your passion for cooking start?
NA: I had a love for cooking since the age of six and I started cooking by the time I was nine. I always enjoy being in the kitchen creating recipes. My mom always worried that one day I would get sick because of the ingredients I would be mixing and how I would dispose of it when it didn’t come out good, not taking any consideration into how much money I would be throwing away. At first, I didn't really know what I was doing but I improved due to my determination and dream to become a certified chef. My dad is also a chef so I think that’s an extra motivation.
If you had to cook a meal for the IAAF president, what would it be and why?
NA: It would be really great to cook a Jamaican dish, seeing that he is from Senegal.
Appetiser - Fish tea
Salad - Tossed garden salad
Main course/entrée - Jerk chicken, rice and peas
Dessert - Potato pudding, topped with vanilla ice cream
What is the most demanding meal you have ever had to cook?
NA: There are a couple but my chilli-shrimp linguine served with broccoli and sweet potato fries is a really tasty meal. It has both a spicy and sweet taste to it.
Does your background as a sprinter help your ability to cook?
NA: Yes it does, because I am always trying to live a healthy life and that starts from what you eat. In addition, being an athlete means I'm often on a strict diet and it is always easier to cook for yourself than to purchase it elsewhere.
You have future plans to be a chef. Can you explain more?
NA: My ultimate dream is to become a certified chef. When I'm in the kitchen I'm at peace. Growing up I realised that I couldn’t go out and enjoy a meal the way I wanted to. Sometimes the taste was too similar and I like variety. So this encouraged me to pursue my dreams. Another important reason is to help assist those who eat unhealthily, which can cause health deficiencies.
Steve Landells for the IAAF