Eugene Amo-Dadzie leads what appears to be an ordinary life: he’s a husband, a father, and works nine-to-five as a chartered accountant in London.
But away from his family and his profession, Amo-Dadzie also happens to be one of the fastest men in the world, this year running the 100 meters in under 10 seconds for the first time.
The sprinter’s career trajectory is unlike any of his rivals’ on the track and field circuit. He only started training seriously at the age of 26 and still balances athletics with his regular job as an accountant.
A promising sprinter throughout school, Amo-Dadzie had lowered his 100m time to 11.3 seconds by the age of 17. But he says he was “getting dominated” at competitions and ultimately drifted away from athletics while some of his rivals went on to compete at a junior international level.
He went off to university and later qualified as a chartered accountant, only putting his speed to use when playing soccer recreationally.
“I was that guy who would watch on the couch and I’d be like: I was quick in school. If I tried, I could have made it,” Amo-Dadzie recalls.
“If I joined an athletics club, I could have been there. My best friends had been giving me grief for years … For whatever reason, I was just content with thinking that I could have made it.”
It was while walking past an athletics track in London that Amo-Dadzie experienced a change of heart. Returning home from a soccer game, he had stopped with a friend to watch a local meet when he was once again asked why he had never taken sprinting seriously.
“That was the moment something in my mind switched and I didn’t have an answer for him,” says Amo-Dadzie. “I didn’t have any reason to give him as to why I’d never tried it.”
And so began a steady rise through the sport’s ranks for the “world’s fastest accountant” – a moniker Amo-Dadzie adopted as his times became faster and faster.
He has worked with coach Steve Fudge since 2017, focusing more on process rather than targeting certain times.
In 2019, his first full year of training, Amo-Dadzie ran a personal best of 10.55 seconds, which was subsequently lowered to 10.2 seconds in 2021 and 10.05 in 2022.
This year has been a major breakthrough, the 30-year-old earning his first international vest in March and then breaking the 10-second barrier for the first time in Austria last month.
Which begs the question: does he regret the time he spent not pursuing the sport?
“The answer to that is really simple,” says Amo-Dadzie. “I truly believe there’s a season and a time for everything. And everything happens for a reason … Starting at 26 with the head I had on my shoulders – I was a married man, I was a career man, I had a maturity about me.
“I guess, thank God, that I’ve been able to navigate this space a lot better.”
He now hopes to compete at the world championships in Budapest in August and the Olympics in Paris next year – scarcely fathomable achievements for someone who only joined an athletics club for the first time in his mid-twenties.
To just compete for his country, let alone at a major championship, was a “surreal moment” for Amo-Dadzie.
“I didn’t even grow up with the dream of being an athlete, but God would have it that that’s where I’ve ended up,” he says. “It was unbelievable and I’m incredibly proud of it. God willing, there’s more to come.”
Days after he first competed for Great Britain, Amo-Dadzie had returned to the more familiar environment of his office in London, looking over spreadsheets in his accountancy job.
It’s fair to say that he leads a starkly different life compared to many of his rivals on the track, most of whom benefit from sponsors and funding.
“It keeps me grounded,” says Amo-Dadzie. “It is a difficult balance – I’m a husband, I’m a father, I’m also a governor of a primary school. There are some weeks where I am truly stretched quite thin, but I’ve got an incredible support team.”
His 100m time of 9.93 seconds places Amo-Dadzie in the top five British men of all time; it was also his country’s leading time this year until Zharnel Hughes broke the British record in New York last week.
Despite his sudden success, Amo-Dadzie cuts a relaxed figure at track meets. He puts earphones in as he prepares to race and likes to dance to upbeat gospel music in the warmup area.
“I’m vibing and I’m enjoying myself,” he says, rarely overawed by a sense of occasion.
“For me, it’s very much believing and trusting in the talent that God has given me and knowing that I belong in those spaces.”