Nigerian sportswomen have not been doing badly on the world stage. Quite a number of them set world records at the recently concluded Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, United Kingdom. OGHENOVO EGODO-MICHAEL takes a look at these women who are doing a lot to place Nigeria on the world map positively
A track and field athlete, Tobi Amusan, excited Nigerians yet again after she broke the world record for the second time at the Commonwealth Games, in the women’s 100m hurdles race, which held at Alexander Stadium in Birmingham.
With her win, she set a new record of 12.30 seconds; ‘dusting’ the previously set record of 12.65 seconds by a 16-year-old Jamaican, Brigitte Foster-Hylton in Australia.
Recall that just some weeks ago, at the World Athletics Championships, Amusan broke another world record with a time of 12.12 seconds, scrapping the previously set record of 12.20 seconds in 2016 by Kenni Harrison of the United States of America. Though she ran a time of 12.06 seconds which should have been the new record, the time was not recognised as a new record due to the tailwind of +2.5 m/s.
Earlier in the year, Amusan won the 2022 Diamond League in Paris, setting an African record of 12.41 seconds. In 2021, she became the first Nigerian to win a Diamond League trophy. That same year, she also contested in the Tokyo Olympics where she came fourth.
At the 2018 Commonwealth Games held in Australia, Amusan won the race ahead of her biggest competitor at the time, Danielle Williams, by a metre. Alongside her teammates, Joy Udo-Gabriel, Blessing Okagbare and Rosemary Chukwuma, she won a bronze medal in the 100 x 400m relay race. Subsequently, she bagged her first African championship at the 21st African Championship, held at the Stephen Keshi Stadium in Asaba, Delta State, where 800 athletes from 52 African countries participated. Later in 2018, she got another medal in a single race, as she won a 100m race.
In recent times, Amusan seems to have developed the habit of breaking records.
At the 2017 NCAA Outdoor Track and Field event held at the Hayward Field in Oregon, USA, Amusan erased the previous record of Camacho-Quinn, with her record of 12.57 seconds.
As a fresh student of the University of Texas in 2016, she became the second athlete to be named C-USA Female. At the university’s games, she won both the 100m and 200m races, where she first surpassed the 13 seconds time, with a record of 12.83 seconds. She also represented Nigeria at the Rio Olympics games in 2016, where she got to the semi-final stage.
The skilled athlete bagged first position in the 100m hurdles at the African Junior Championship which held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
Amusan was born in Nigeria in 1997. She had her secondary education at Our Lady of Apostles Secondary School, Ijebu-Ode, Ogun State.
She is friends with another Nigerian record-breaking sportswoman, Ese Brume as they make encouraging comments on each other’s social media. Amusan is a cool, reserved lady who believes strongly in God. Many times, she has noted that her wins are God’s, not hers.
Ese Brume hails from Ughelli, Delta State. The three-time African Senior Champion in Long Jump is also a five-time African Junior Champion in Athletics.
At the recently concluded Commonwealth Games, Brume leaped to gold, setting new world records twice in the space of minutes. She initially set a record after leaping for 7.00m. She later beat this record with another one of 6.99m. After the competition, Brume had expressed gratitude to God.
Few week ago at the World Athletics Championship held in USA, Brume won the silver medal in the women’s long jump.
Her first national game was at the 2012 Nigerian Athletics Championship where she placed sixth in long jump. She went ahead to win the 18th National sports Fest in Lagos the next year.
Brume was also one of the most successful athletes at the 2013 African Junior Athletics Championship. She won in the long jump category and was among the 4 x 100m winning relay team for Nigeria. In May 2014, she ran a 100m best of 11.8 seconds. She followed this with a new African Junior record of 6.60m.
In 2014, she was chosen for the 2014 World Junior Championship in athletics. Shortly after that, she represented Nigeria at the 2014 Commonwealth Games, where she cleared 6.56m to win the gold medal. She dedicated her win to the then Delta State Governor, Emmanuel Uduaghan, who invested in track and field infrastructure in the state. She also said she was inspired by a senior colleague, Blessing Okagbare. Her achievements later won her a scholarship in the United States of America.
In 2016, Brume qualified as the third best athlete in her pool for the Rio Olympics long jump final. She came fifth in the competition with a distance of 6.81metres.
In 2018, she represented her school, the Eastern Mediterranean University, at the Turkey Koc Fest University Sport Games where she emerged a double champion. In the 2018 Africa Champions in Athletics competition, she set a new record of 6.82m for the first leg. She also set another record at the 19th Nigerian National Sports Festival in Abuja with a 6.62 seconds run.
Brume was the only Nigerian nominated at the 2019 StarQt Award under the African Sportswoman of the Year category. She also got her first African title when she became the African Games champion in long jump in August 2019. In October of that same year, she won Nigeria’s only medal at the World Championship.
After breaking the African record in long jump set by Chioma Ajunwa, she went further to win Nigeria’s only and first medal since 2018 at the Olympic Games for athletics. She dedicated the medal to the founder of the Living Faith Church Worldwide, David Oyedepo.
Brume is a conservative lady who is very spiritual and attributes all her achievements to God. On achieving her latest feat, she took to her Instagram page to write, “To those still expecting, the excitement of dreams coming true is beyond the description of words. Keep the faith. God is not dead. The vision is always for the appointed time. Be patient, prayerful and wait for the fulfillment of your visions.
Goodness Nwachukwu was the sole competitor in the Discus Throw F42-44/61-64 event at the 2022 Commonwealth Games, where she set two records. She set a new world record of 36.56m, breaking her previous record of 32.95m at the 2021 World Para Athletics Grand Prix in Tunisia. She won Nigeria’s fourth medal at the 2022 Commonwealth Games.
Though Nwachukwu could not surpass the feat in other attempts, she received cheers and admiration from the audience at the Alexander Stadium venue of the Commonwealth Games. She stated that she did not know her throw would earn her something as big as a world record, adding that she was ready to settle for either silver or bronze. She noted that when she started, she went for the para powerlifting category but she was told that her hands were too big. She was advised to go for throws, a more suitable platform to fulfill her dreams.
Nwachukwu started throwing in November 2012 but she took a break and resumed in 2018 at the National Trials in Abuja.
In 2021, she competed in Tunisia where she set a new record of 32.0m. She also contested twice in South Africa, setting records of 33.0m and 35.0m. According to her, she intends to go back home and encourage as well as train more people, especially those with disabilities. She also urged the government to help people with special conditions like hers to help them achieve their goals.
Away from the sporting arena, Nwachukwu seems to be reserved. Not much is know about her family or personal life. But, despite being a para-athlete and discuss thrower, Nwanchukwu exudes a lot of energy.
Rafiatu Lawal is a Lagos-born weightlifter. She took home the gold medal in the women’s 55kg event at the 2022 Commonwealth Games. She lifted a total weight of 206kg to set a Commonwealth record for accumulated lift. She set another record in the ‘clean and jerk’ category of the game after she lifted 116kg. In the snatch category, she set a 90kg record, totaling 206kg in all her attempts. She won Nigeria’s third gold medal at the 2022 Commonwealth Games.
In 2019, Lawal won the gold medal in the women’s 59kg event of the African Games, held in Rabat, Morocco. She also won gold medal in the snatch and clean, and jerking events. She set a new record in the snatch category on lifting 93kg in her first attempt.
In 2021, her performance won her a gold medal in the Commonwealth Weightlifting Championships which also qualified her to compete in the 2022 Commonwealth Games. She also competed in the women’s 59kg category at the 2021 World Weightlifting Championship held in Tashkent, Uzbekistan. She placed sixth in the competition.
Speaking about her outstanding win at the 2022 Commonwealth Games, Lawal said that she had to train extra hard with support from her coach.
Lawal undoubtedly works hard. England’s Jessica Gordon who competed with Lawal and won the silver medal at the 2022 Commonwealth Games noted that Lawal struck her as being very good when it comes to weightlifting. She also described her as being really strong.
Born on November 12, 1996, Lawal was raised in Lagos where she had her primary and secondary education. Not much is known about her personal life.
Adijat Olarinoye is a 23-year-old weightlifter. She got into the weight-lifting when she represented Oyo State at the National Sports Festival.
She made her first African Games appearance in 2019 when she represented Nigeria and won three medals. She won gold in the women’s 55kg clean jerk weightlifting event, silver in the 55kg snatch event where Chika Amalaha beat her to the gold medal. Subsequently, she won the overall gold medal, beating Chika Amalaha. In August of the same year, Adijat, set another African record in weightlifting for the clean and jerk category after lifting 116kg during the African Games
In 2021, she represented Nigeria at the World Weightlifting Championships at Tashkent, Uzbekistan, in the women’s 55 kg event. She won the silver medal in the competition.
During the 2022 Commonwealth Games, Olarinoye won Nigeria’s first gold medal. She lifted a total of 203kg, setting a game’s record for accumulated lifts. For her second lift, she set another record in the snatch category with a 92kg lift. It was her first time participating in the Commonwealth Games, and she did not disappoint her fans and admirers. After the game, she revealed that she felt confident from the beginning and was sure she would emerge the winner. From the little that is known about her, she is a family-oriented person. She dedicated her gold medal to her mother.
Chioma Onyekwere is a track and field athlete who specialises in discus throwing. She currently holds the Nigerian National record for discus throw. In addition to that, she holds three African titles. In 2021, she achieved her overall personal best of 63.30m for the discus throw.
Onyekwere had her university education at the University of Maryland, USA, where she was recognised for her academic achievements as a student athlete for four years by the Big Ten (the oldest Division I collegiate athletic conference in the United States) and ACC (a collegiate athletic conference located in the eastern United States) while she served as one of the team’s captains. Her other college honours include All-American recognition, All-Big Ten honors, All-Academic Big Ten, 5 Big Ten Conference Medals, and Solomon Eye Terp of the Week recipient.
Onyekwere started her sporting career in 2011. She was also a student of James W. Robinson High School in Fairfax, Virginia, USA, where she competed under the mentorship of a University of Maryland former thrower, Beau Fay.
In 2012, she started attending the University of Maryland. That same year, she joined the track and field team, coached by US Olympian, Andrew Valmon. She also played in the 2012 Nationals where she came fifth.
In 2016, she broke a 14-year school record with a personal best of 21.17m. That record-breaking throw qualified her for the 2016 NCAA Division 1 indoor Track and Field National Championship. She also won silver spot in her final Big Ten Indoor Track and field championship. The record-breaking Nigerian, again, marveled audience as she broke a 34-year school record in discus with a throw of 52.4m. Again, she beat this record with another 54.43m throw. She also threw a career-best of 16.85m in shot put, earning her the fifth Big Ten medal. She also competed at the NCAA East Regional Championships for both shot put and discus. Her performance qualified her for the NCAA Outfoor Chanpionships. At the end of the season, she got an All-American Honourable Mention.
In 2018, Onyekwere competed in the discus throw at the African Championships in Athletics held in Asaba, Delta State. She earned a gold medal with a personal best of 58.09m. She went on to participate in the 2019 IAAF World Athletics Championship in Doha, Qatar. She threw a personal best of 61.58m in the qualifying round, which got her in the 13th place, one spot below the qualifying position.
In 2021, she broke the Nigerian national record of 61.58m set by Chinwe Okoro with a new record of 63.30m.
In 2022, she defended her previous win at the African Championships in Athletics held in Saint Pierre, Mauritius, where she made a throw of 58.18m. Onyekwere set another history at the 2022 Commonwealth Games as the first Nigerian to win gold in the discus throw with an energetic throw of 61.70m.
Onyekwere hails from Anambra State. However, she was born in Michigan, USA, before later moving to Nigeria with her family. In 2002, she moved again with her family to Virginia. She graduated from the A. James Clerk School of Engineering with a degree in Mechanical Engineering. Onyekwere loves to spend time with her family and loved ones. She got married in April 2022 to Calvin Lyons after nine years of dating. She describes herself as being fashionable and fun-loving.