Best and Worst Moments: Chukwuebuka Enekwechi
Shortly after a successful NCAA career at Purdue University which ended in 2016, Nigeria’s Shot Putter, Chukwuebuka Enekwechi experienced some particularly dispiriting encounters during his first National trials that same year which led to a shattered Olympic dream while on a high, though, having re-emerged even stronger than before, he went on to win two international medals at the 2018 Commonwealth Games and African Championships.
One low moment of my athletic career was when I was pursuing the 2016 Olympic Games. I needed to achieve the standard of 20.50m and I was at 20.45m for the Shot Put. I went to Sapele hoping to have a chance to set a small personal best and qualify for the Games. When I got there, the rings surface resembled the moon and there was no stop board. We were expecting heavy rain in a couple of hours and the officials postponed the event for a couple of hours to eat.
That meet and the lead up to it were the most difficult experience I’ve had in athletics emotionally.
Another terrible experience was the 2018 World Indoor Championship in Birmingham. At the time I may have had only $300 to my name. I was preparing for the meet hoping to throw over 21m and make the final.
Unfortunately last minute flight arrangements hindered my training as I could not put together a schedule during the last and most crucial part of my preparation. Simply put, I had no idea when I was leaving and I only received confirmation that I was in the meet a couple of days prior.
When I got to Birmingham, I saw no team officials or leaders. Myself and a few teammates were running around like headless chicken for the duration of the competition. It was a big blow to my confidence and at the end of the day, I was still poor and contemplating quitting the sport.
Well the 2018 Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast was one month after the World Indoor Championships. When I got back to America, I was very upset but I went back to training the very next day. I had the plan of getting so strong that despite what happens I can still throw well even if it’s not my very best. Several times I was outside training in 0 degrees and snow. When I got to Australia, things were great. I met some old friends and many new ones and team officials and coaches.
The weather was beautiful every day. My training throws were suddenly going far. When time for the qualification round came, I only needed one throw to hit the standard as I threw 20.64m on my first try. The next day, I surpassed 21m with a PB of 21.14m in the finals. I was seeded 5th in the meet and secured a medal. I hoped for it and worked toward it but I had a hard time really wrapping my mind around it. That was one of the highlights of my life thus far.
Speaking on his experiencnce at the African Championships, he said “Once I got my luggage in Asaba the experience was great. I didn’t feel like my passport said “Foreign Based”. I felt like a Nigerian that was welcomed by the crowd. I was very happy to have secured another major international medal, this time gold, with a throw of 21.08m. For the next few days everyone I saw was very appreciative and wanted pictures and my contacts. I really felt celebrated and enjoyed my time in Asaba.”