You probably do not know these names; Kanu Nwankwo, Asisat Lamina Oshoala, Anthony Joshua, Blessing Okagbere, Israel Adesanya.
I know. That’s wrong! You know these names. Well, even if you don’t, the average Nigerian does. These names have proved themselves over the years in the world of sports, but it’s not just them. The list of successful Nigerian athletes is inexhaustible, spanning across diverse sports many Nigerians might not be conversant with. Here are a few Nigerian athletes who have proved themselves globally in no particular order.
- Divine Oduduru: Does the phrase ‘I never experred it’ ring the bell? These were Divine’s words at a post-race interview at the IAAF World Youth Championship in 2013 which led to a wave of funny videos and memes, turning him into an overnight internet sensation. Make no mistake however, Divine holds it down on the track.
Divine is a 5x African junior champion. At the Rio Olympics 200m first round, Divine was just four seconds short of beating Usain Bolt to the first position. He currently is a student-athlete at Texas Tech University where he led the school’s track team in 2019 to their first-ever NCAA championship with a 9.86 and 19.73 record time in both 100m and 200m sprints on the same day. Both the second-fastest time in NCAA history.
- Seun Adigun, Ngozi Onwumere, Akuoma Omeoga: The trio made history leading Nigeria to become the first-ever African country to qualify for the Bobsled race at the Winter Olympics in 2018. Originally former track & field athletes, they stepped out of their comfort zones and took a chance with a new sport with no financial support from Nigeria at inception. Today, these ladies are celebrated globally and ensure the progress of the sport in the nation.
- Arike Ogunbowale: Arike is an outstanding basketball player. She was named 2015 Miss Wisconsin Basketball in high school and led her school team to win the WIAA Championship Division I title. As a collegiate athlete in Notre Dame, she helped the team win the NCAA championship as a junior with game-defining baskets in 2018 and was named the Atlantic Coast Conference player across all sports. She was drafted as the fifth overall pick in the 2019 WNBA draft and now plays professionally for the Dallas Wings.
- Segun Toriola: Highly regarded as Nigeria’s best table tennis player, Segun has backed it up for decades. He was ranked as the number one African player from 1998 to 2008 with multiple national, and international championships to his resume. He is the first and only Nigerian athlete to appear in six Olympics. Though many describe his playing style as awkward, Segun Toriola remains a beast on the table and has defeated multiple world champions.
In Divine Orduduru’s words “I have a black blood in me, and African people, we’re born great”. Maybe that came out funny, however, there’s no lie to it. Nigerian athletes are great at what they do.
This article was written by Damilola A. Ahmadu; connect with him on Instagram via here