2019 African Games: How Nigeria’s Enekwechi won gold, set new record despite challenges

Nigerian Shot Putter Chukwuebuka Enekwechi.
Nigerian Shot Putter Chukwuebuka Enekwechi.

When Nigerian shot putter, Chukwuebuka Enekwechi, won gold on the second day of competition in the athletics event at the ongoing African Games in Morocco, not many were surprised.

Enekwechi has been in top form all year round with spectacular performances at the different meets he has competed in across the world.

The soft-spoken but strong-willed athlete had set and broken the national record a couple of times in the last nine months, hence, expectations were high ahead of his first African Games.

Though Enekwechi delivered on Gold in Morocco, the America-born athlete told PREMIUM TIMES about some challenges that could have derailed his ambition.

He threw a distance of 21.48m to erase the 20.25m record previously set by Frank Elemba at the 2015 edition in Congo, Brazzaville.

“I am happy to have had a great competition despite the kind of conditions I found myself,” Enekwechi said in an exclusive interview with this newspaper.

“A lot of stuff went wrong, I got here like on the 20th but my bags did not arrive from France on time…, I could not get my supplements, I could not prepare and all together, I might have lost like a week of training.

“I have been in Europe like a week before coming here and all that kind of messed up my rhythm, so I have to go back to the hard training again so I can be ready for the World Championships.”

Many wonder that, if Enekwechi was able to win gold and set a new record despite the challenges he highlighted, how then would he have performed if all was in tip-top shape.

“A lot of time my friends on the team make fun of me that if you give me a hard time, the ball goes farther, (throws better) so, maybe that is what has happened again.”

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Looking forward to the big one in the World Championships in Doha, Enekwechi stated that his first target is making it to the final, before hoping for a place on the podium.

“It would be nice to make the final and put together another good competition. That would probably be my 15th Meet for the year. I have been going since December. I just hope I can stay healthy, there has been nothing major (no injury), hopefully, it stays that way”

Before going to compete against the best at the World championship, Enekwechi revealed he has to more meets to fully prepare for the ultimate test in Doha.

“I still have two meets before the World championships. After that, I can go on a break and get ready for 2020,” Enekwechi said.

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