Photo by Jeff Fitlow

AT AGE 10, FUNMI JIMOH PENNED a prophetic journal entry: “I’m going to go to the Olympics.” More than 20 years later, the decorated Rice alumna and former U.S. Olympian has returned to the place that helped make her wish come true.

“I don’t think I would have made it to the Olympics (without Rice),” said Jimoh. “Nothing against any big school, but knowing the kind of individual I am, I don’t think I would have made it that far in a bigger situation because I had so many people kind of help guide me. You’re not just one of many. They know you. Even some of my professors were, like, ‘We’ve got your back. We’ve got you.’ The small environment at Rice is very family-oriented.”

A 2015 inductee into the Rice Athletic Hall of Fame, Jimoh still holds the Rice record in the heptathlon and the 100-meter hurdles. She finished 12th in the long jump at the Olympic Games in 2008. This past September, she joined her former coach, Jim Bevan, as a full-time assistant for the Owls. A self-described student of the sport, Jimoh believes her experiences can help current student–athletes.

“I have an idea of how I think I can really help some of these athletes, so it’s exciting to be able to teach them the things that I know can save them a couple of rough days and watch them progress,” said Jimoh. “I see the things I needed to be told at that time in order to foster good habits or do away with some bad habits. I see myself in almost every one of them.”