One primary accomplishment most athletes seek to achieve in the course of their careers is making it to at least one Olympic Games – the biggest sporting gathering in the world that occurs every four years.
The 2020 event, was, however, rescheduled till July 2021 because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Team Nigeria, the Nigeria contingent, will have 61 athletes on her roster. On this roster is an athlete making a record seventh appearance, but there are also a couple of newbies, who will be initiated into the Olympic family in Tokyo.
As part of PREMIUM TIMES’ build-up to the Games, we will beam the searchlight on seven promising Nigerians who will make their Olympic debut in Tokyo.
Among the youngest Nigerians to take part in the Olympics, Favour Ofili is on the Team Nigeria roster for Nigeria’s 17th appearance at the global games in Tokyo and she looks good for a medal despite her tender years. The Louisiana State University undergraduate has given plenty of reasons to be optimistic of a good show in her debut appearance.
Ofili,18, has already shown tremendous amounts of promise on the track. She represented Nigeria at the 2019 IAAF World Championships when she was only 16, and that made her the youngest athlete to compete at the world championships that year.
She was also at the African Games in Morocco the same year where she won a silver medal in the 400 metres.
Ofili will compete in the 200 meters individually, and will also be on Nigeria’s 4×100 relay and 4×400 mixed relay teams.
Usoro was undisputedly the best women’s triple jumper this year in the U.S. college competition, sweeping the NCAA championships in the indoor and outdoor events.
The soft-spoken jumper who started out as a sprinter before switching to the jumps is another testimony that dreams actually come true if one follows through with discipline.
Now the National Record holder in her event, Usoro ranks among the top 10 in the world this year in the triple jump with her personal record of 47 feet, 7 inches [14.5 metres] achieved at a Tech home meet in April.
She has cracked 47 feet [14.33 metres] twice this year and 46 feet [14.02 metres] five other times.
The 21-year-old is the first Nigerian female Taekwondo athlete to qualify for the Olympics in 16 years after Olympian Princess Dudu achieved the feat at the 2004 Olympics in Athens.
Despite the limitations occasioned by COVID-19 and paucity of funds, Anyanacho and her mentor, Chika Chukwumerije, have in the past months worked tirelessly for a good outing in Tokyo.
The 300 Level Statistics undergraduate of the Federal University of Technology, Owerri (FUTO) has fought her way to the Olympic Games with a handful of national and international laurels to her credit, including the gold at Beirut Open,
Seeded 13th in the Olympic ranking, Anyanacho will face fourth seed, Nur Tatar, from Turkey in the 67kg category in her first fight in the round of 16 on July 26.
After playing for over six years in the Italian Table Tennis Super League, Omotayo recently signed a one-year deal to join the French Pro A team, PPC Villeneuve, for the 2021/2022 season.
As he heads to Tokyo, the 26-year-old is preoccupied with exhibiting his God-given talent at the Olympics and to see how far that would take him.
Omotayo is the current African Games champion following his historic defeat of his compatriot, Aruna Quadri, in the finals of the table tennis event at the 2019 African Games.
Known for his offensive playing style with a strong topspin stroke, Omotayo is one to watch out for in Tokyo as he rubs shoulders with the world’s best.
Eke will be the first Artistic Gymnast to represent Nigeria at the Olympic Games. He started the journey to the Olympics from the African Games in 2019 where he won a gold and also a bronze medal.
Now 23, Eke told PREMIUM TIMES he had been doing gymnastics since he was four, so it has been part of his life
A graduate with honours in Computer Science Engineering from the University of Michigan, Eke possesses exceptional skills that could make him the cynosure of all eyes in Tokyo.
Anuoluwapo Juwon Opeyori
Few Nigerians know how big their players are in badminton circles. One of the shining lights in the racket sport is Anuoluwapo, who is currently the second-highest ranked African male player.
Since his deserved breakthrough into the Nigeria Senior National Team in 2017, he has grown in leaps and bounds.
Indeed, his racket speaks volumes, and it has attracted many African Championships with the 2019 African Games singles event gold medal, the one he is most proud of.
Anuoluwapo’s partnership with Godwin Richard Olofua in the Men’s Doubles event at the 32nd edition of the Olympic Games in Tokyo, Japan should be worthwhile going by the synergy the duo have formed over the years.
The 19-year-old is a trailblazer as far as this water sport is concerned, especially in this part of the world.
She competed at the 2019 African Games and won the gold medals in the C-1 200 metres and C-1 500 metres events. She also won the gold medals in the C-2 200 metres and C-2 500 metres events.
As a result, the country finished second in the canoeing medal table at the 2019 African Games and she also qualified for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics in the C-1 200 metres.
Bello is the first Nigerian since the inception of the Nigeria Rowing, Canoe, and Sailing Federation to win the top prize at an international water sports competition.
We wish this new set of Olympians the very best when the Games flag off on July 23.
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