Our female athletes are our pride and joy right now when it comes to sports. Everything else is going wrong apart from them, so we celebrate these five National heroes on International Women's Day.
Female athletes are currently the pride and joy of Nigerians when it comes to excelling at international sporting competitions, and they deserve to be celebrated especially on International Women's Day.
In the past year, some of these athletes wrote their names in the history books, broke the bias of male dominance, and positively changed the image of Nigeria athletics globally, which has brought more influence to the sport in the country.
They are changing the narrative and bringing equity on how sports-loving Nigerians shouldn't just focus on football as the only sporting image of the country, but track and field can equally get the job done.
On this day of International Women's Day Celebration, we celebrate these athletes who have proven in the past year that even when everything else is going wrong in Nigerian sports, they are the nation's pride.
Tobi Amusan, Nigeria's sporting pride
Before the 2022 World Championships in Oregon, Amusan was just a respected athlete who had made her mark as a 100m Hurdles multiple champion in the African scene but not globally.
Last year, she became Nigeria's first World Outdoor Champion and World Record (WR) holder with 12.12s, successfully retained her Commonwealth title, setting a Games Record (GR) of 12.30s, and wrapped her long and iconic season at the Zürich Diamond League final, running a Meeting Record of 12.29s to retain her title, thereby becoming the first Nigerian athlete in history to attain this feat.
Amusan has attained many first-time feats since these performances, being nominated for the World Athletics Female Athlete of the Year (finished as first runner-up) and Laureus Sports Awards in the Breakthrough of the Year category (winner yet to be announced).
She has also won several national awards, is now a mentor for several athletes worldwide, and has broken the bias of bagging various ambassadorial deals in Nigeria, which was never the case for female athletes in the past.
The national icon and hero has positively changed the sports image for future generations.
Ese Brume, Nigeria's gift of winning medals
In 2022, the long jump queen proved again why she is a joy giver to Nigerians and the most consistent medal-winning athlete in the past few years.
She was Nigeria’s only medallist at the World Indoor Championship in Belgrade, thereby becoming the nation’s first World indoor medallist in fourteen years since Olusoji Fasuba last won the 60m title in 2008.
At the World Championships, Brume added another shining silver medal, making history as the first African (male or female) to win two Long Jump medals in the championship history, in addition to her Bronze medal from Doha 2019.
Furthermore, she’s the second Nigerian and African woman after Blessing Okagbare to make the events podium at the championship.
Brume capped off her exceptional season at the Commonwealth Games, erasing the previous Games Record (GR) of 6.99m with a new 7.00m to regain her Commonwealth title from 2014. She became the first African woman to jump four legal marks over 7.00m.
Now Nigerians are assured that if Brume competes at a major athletics championship, the possibilities for a medal are almost certain.
Favour Ofili, the 'star girl' of college athletes in the US
Regarded as the next big name in Nigerian athletics after Amusan and Brume, Ofili rose to the elite league in 2022, churning out her best career performances in the college circuit and internationally for Nigeria.
The Louisiana State University (LSU) sophomore speedster ran a then 200m Collegiate Record of 21.96s, becoming the first college, Nigerian, and second African athlete in history to run under the 22s mark. She also ran a Personal Best (PB) of 10.93s in the 100m plus won a 200m Silver medal at the NCAA Outdoor Championships, clocking an outstanding 22.05s.
Internationally, Ofili competed at the World Championships, where the highly rated youngster got to the 200m semifinals and ran a fantastic leg in the back straight to help the women’s 4x100m relay team earn a fourth-place finish clocking an AR of 42.22s.
At the CWG, she won the 200m silver medal behind Olympic Champion Elaine Thompson - her first senior international medal.
Her exceptional performances have seen her nicknamed ‘Star Girl’ being the poster girl of Nigerian athletes in the NCAA, and has impacted the interest of Nigerians in college track and field.
Chioma Onyekwere's historic throw and gold medal
The established Discus thrower spread her throwing tentacles out of being a dominant force in the continent by winning an international medal this season.
She began her Gold medal winning season at the African Championships in Mauritius, where she inspired a 1-3 finish for Nigeria in the women’s Discus final, throwing a distance of 58.19m to defend her title - her fourth African Championships medal since 2016.
Consequently, she had a first-time master stroke at the CWG, becoming the first Nigerian woman in history to win a Commonwealth Gold medal in the Discus event, throwing a Season’s Best of 61.70m.
Having won multiple continental titles, it was the first title Onyekwere won outside Africa. Noteworthy is that she combines athletics with a full-time job as an engineer at Ford Automobiles, where she's one of their leading product designers.
Ruth Usoro's double historic moment
Usoro became the first Nigerian jumper (male or female) in history to compete in the long and triple jump at the same World Championships.
She qualified for both events at the World Indoor Championships, where she opted for the triple jump and finished eighth, while in Oregon, she competed in both events and finished fifth in the long jump.
Usoro was the only jumper in the world to attain this feat at the World Championships last year.