CJ Ujah has revealed he turned to meditation because he wanted to find more compassion in his life amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The Team GB sprinter, who is in Tokyo preparing for the Olympics, now listens to a Buddhism audio book and meditates daily.
Ujah missed the World Championships in 2019 with a back injury, having previously helped Great Britain to the 4x100m world title in London two years earlier.
“I looked at Covid and said to myself I could make it a negative situation or a positive one. I drew the positives,” said Ujah, who will run in the 100m and 4x100m.
“There are our jobs but when Covid hit you realise there are more important things like our families and friends, people are suffering and people have died.
“It was a sense of compassion to meditate and realise what is important. This is my job and I love it but I want to be in touch with the real world.
“I meditate every morning, it’s part of my routine. I spend a lot of time meditating and praying, those are the two things I do in the morning. It helps me remain grounded and focused.
“It’s 10 minutes every day, a state of breathing, feeling relaxed. I started this routine in January and felt a lot better for it.
“I listen to Mindful Compassion, an audio book, which looks at Zen Buddhism. It helps me remain calm in situations where you may not be so calm.
“The 100m happens so fast but in that time that is when you have to have a calmness. It’s a bit of an oxymoron to be so calm in something so fast but you have to remain calm even though you are moving so fast.”
Ujah is a 28-1 outsider for the title with American Trayvon Bromell favourite ahead of South Africa’s Akani Simbine.
Bromell has run the fastest time in 2021, 9.77 seconds, but with Christian Coleman serving a ban for missing drugs tests and no Usain Bolt, who has won the last three 100m titles, Ujah believes it is too close to call.
“In terms of consistency you can say he has run the fastest time this year but he has been beaten this year. It’s not like a Bolt where you just say ‘who’s coming second and third?’ If you get to the final it’s anyone’s game.
“No-one has two heads. We all have to race and compete for it.”