NIGERIAN ATHLETICS HISTORY AT A GLANCE (INTERNATIONAL).
We kick-off by taking a look at Nigerian Athletics on the International Scene. Nigeria is The Giant of Africa with about 160 million people and today we share why we are Giants in track and field. We will like to take you through some of our best performances on the international scene, randomly selected.
Nigeria athletics was noted first in the 1950s. She had her foremost appearance in the Helsinki Olympic Games in 1952 and her first victory in 1954, when Emmanuel Ifeanjuna won a gold medal in the high jump at The Commonwealth Games in Canada with a height of 2.03m.
In 1962, National Sports Council was setup and in 1971 the National Sports Committee was established and had some responsibilities such as
1) To encourage the development, organization and participation of sports in Nigeria.
2) To promote physical fitness and general wellbeing of all persons in Nigeria amongst others.
Our Greatest Moments
We are Africa’s Fastest
Olusoji Adetokunbo Fasuba was born on 9th of July 1984 is a Nigerian sprinter who specializes in the 100 meters. He is currently Africa’s record holder in the event with 9.85 seconds from Doha Grand Prix, breaking Francis Fredrick’s old record of 9.86seconds which stood from 1996.
He was a member of the Nigerian bronze medal winning team in the 4 x 100 meters relay at the 2004 Olympic Games. The same year he won the African Championships on 100 meters. He won the silver medal at the 2006 Commonwealth Games behind Asafa Powell and on March 8, 2008 he won the World Indoor Championships over 60 meters in a time of 6.51 seconds becoming the first African to complete the feat.
Fasuba’s run was remarkable as he was almost a foot shorter than many other sprinters. He is thought to have one of the fastest footsteps in athletics.
Africa’s Fastest Man Olusoji Adetokunbo Fasuba
Nigeria athletics history at a glance cannot be complete without the mention of Chioma Ajunwa, who is the first African and the first Nigerian athlete to win an Olympic Gold medal at the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta. Till date she remains Nigeria’s only Olympic individual gold medalist and she achieved that feat with a leap of 7.12m.
Legendary Jump of Nigeria’s hero Chioma Ajunwa
The Rise to Glory
Nigeria’s first Global medal in the relay was indeed the first ever medal in Athletics at the Olympics came at the Los Angeles ’84 Games in the men’s 4x400m. The duo of Sunday Uti and Innocent Egbunike, who were champions at the African level, went to the world stage to prove themselves.
They gave Nigeria an exciting race with great display in the 1st and final legs respectively for a bronze medal run. They were joined on that team by Moses Ugbesien and Rotimi Peters on the 2nd and 3rd leg respectively with a winning time of 2:58.68secs which stand as the African Record.
The Greats of the Greats
At the 1992 Summer Olympics showcased Nigeria in full force as they were to reckon with in both men and women relays.
The men who included Oluyemi Kayode, Chidi Imoh, Olapade Adeniken and Davidson Ezinwa won a Silver medal behind The American team while Cuba was in third place. Osmond Ezinwa was only in the heats but was also awarded a medal as well.
The Ladies have over the years become the Olympic symbol as the world watched how the quartet of Beatrice Utondu, Faith Idehen, Mary Onyali and Christy Opara-Thompson celebrated their ‘golden bronze’ medal in the women’s 4x100m at Barcelona ’92 which is also our cover photo for Athleticsheat blog.
The Golden Girls of 1992 summer Olympics
- Nigeria 4x400m Sydney Silver turned Gold with Udo-Obong anchoring the race.
Enefiok Udo-Obong who at that time ran the race of his life as he overhauled the Jamaicans and Bahamians in the final meters of the race to take the silver medal behind America while Cuba came third. The American team was stripped of their Gold medals in 2008 after one if their athlete, Antonio Pettigrew of blessed memory admitted to taking performance enhancing drugs during that period. It took another four years for the Nigerian quarter to be officially awarded the Gold in 2012. The wonderful team included Clement Chukwu, Jude Monye, Sunday Bada (RIP) and Udo-Obong. It would be worthy to note the duo of Nduka Awaize and Fidelis Gadzama having played their parts in the heats before the finals also picked medals.
The Star quartet of Sydney Olympics
Our Glory Continues
The Glasgow Commonwealth Games was Nigeria’s 12th performance and it’s worthy to note that Nigeria has at least picked up a medal at every Commonwealth Games including a high thirty-seven in 1994.
Track and field also provided the first double medalist in a single edition of the Games, Karim Ayinla Babalola Olowu who won a silver and bronze medal at the 1954 Games. Olowu last two years celebrated his 90th birthday in Lagos and he is on record as Nigeria’s oldest living commonwealth Games hero.
In recent times, Olympic bronze medalist, Blessing Okagbare made it a sprint treble as she won the 100m (10.85secs) which is a Games Record, 200m (22.25secs) and also anchored the Women’s 4x100m to a second place finish with a time of (41.83secs). Not since Victoria Games in 1994- when Mary Onyali and Christy Opara-Thompson completed a one-two had Nigeria been represented on the Commonwealth podium in the women’s 100m and Okagbare is the 10th person to win both 100m and 200m in a Commonwealth Games and the first woman in 12 years to win both sprints races.
Nigeria’s Track&Feield star Blessing Okagbare
We picked the list at random and with this you would agree that Nigeria was truly a country to reckon with in the World of athletics?
We want to encourage all athletes to be at their best as the 2016 outdoor season begins tomorrow with the All Comers meet taking place at Yaba College of Technology as we all prepare for The African Senior Championships, IAAF World Juniors and The Olympics.