When people say Nigeria is a nation of talents, they mean every Nigerian. No matter the background or gender, Nigerians are talented in the field they choose to pursue.
From the likes of Chioma Ajunwa to the recent record-breaking participation of Nigeria’s Bobsled team at the just concluded PyeongChang 2018 winter Olympics. Nigerian women have continued to break barriers in their respective fields, bringing international recognition to their nation.
In commemoration of the world’s international women’s day, hotsportstv.com highlights 12 sports heroines who have brought glory to Nigeria in different sports.
1. Chioma Ajunwa: A native of Anambra state and the last child of her parents. Chioma started her sports career representing the Nigeria Police Force in competitions. She was the first athlete to win an Olympic gold for Nigeria, a record that has remained unbroken in 22 years. At 25, she became the first African woman to win an Olympic gold medal when she represented Nigeria in the long jump event at Atlanta 1996, a feat that will earn her a national award of the MON.
2. Mary Onyali: Mary’s athletics career spanned 18 years. In which time she represented Nigeria in several tournaments including the Olympics, Commonwealth Games, the IAAF Championship, the All African Games and several IAAF organized events such as the Grand Prix and indoors. Onyali first broke on to the scene when she featured at the 1986 Junior World Championships winning silver in the 200metres as well as the relays behind Falilat Ogunkoya. Mary won 19 medals (9 gold, 4 silver, and 6 bronze) flying Nigerian flag. Mary is the first athlete to represent Nigeria in five Olympics events.
3. Falilat Ogunkoya: At 16, young Falilat represented Nigeria at 1987 All Africa Games in Nairobi Kenya, where she won 2 Silver medals in the 100m & 200m women’s relay race. The Ogun State-born athlete has won 14 medals (6 gold, 4 silver and 2 bronze) representing Nigeria at international meets.
4. Modupe Osikoya: She was Nigeria’s first medalist in international athletics. She won the country’s first gold medal in the long jump at the 1974 Commonwealth Games in Christchurch, New Zealand. Dupe cut a niche for herself in the All African Games, winning 5 gold medals in 2 editions of the Games held in Lagos, Nigeria (1973) and Algiers, Algeria (1978).
5. Perpetua Nkwocha: The former Super Falcons captain is the most capped female football player for the national team. The 5-time African championship winner retired from international football with a record of 83 goals in 99 appearances. She holds the record as the highest winner of the African female football of the year, having won it 4 times.
6. Florence Omagbemi: Florence is the only Nigerian to have won the Women’s African Championship as a coach and as a player. The former Super Falcons star won the African championship 4 times in her over 10 years’ career in the national team. As Interim coach of the Super Falcons, Omagbemi led her team to the 2016 African championship triumph in Cameroun.
7. Blessing Okagbare: Blessing is the most decorated Nigerian athlete, having so far won 19 medals at international competitions. She will be leading the Nigerian contingent to the 2018 Commonwealth Games in Australia in April. Okagbare is the fastest 100m runner in Commonwealth Games, with a record of 10.85s. The Niger-Delta born athlete has won 19 medals (11 gold, 6 silver and 2 bronze) since her international debut at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, China.
8. Asisat Oshoala: Asisat Oshoala came to limelight in her dazzling performance at the 2014 FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup, where she won the golden ball and golden shoe at the tournament. The current women’s African Footballer of the Year has already won the award three times. Professionally, she played for Rivers Angels, Liverpool Ladies, Arsenal Ladies, and now Dalian Quanjian F.C. in the Chinese Super League.
9. Odunayo Adekuoroye: Odun emerged as the best 55kg category female wrestler according to the United World Wrestling women’s rankings in August 2017 World Wrestling Championship. The 24-year-old was a gold medalist at the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, Scotland.
10. Ann Chiejinne Agumanu: Ann made history as Nigeria’s first goalkeeper at the maiden FIFA Women World Cup in 1991. The former Super Falcons goalkeeper coach won 4 female African Championship titles in her time as a goalkeeper between 1998 and 2004.
11. Mercy Akide: Mercy’s interest in sports started in her childhood days, playing in the streets of Port-Harcourt. She played for the Garden City Queens and Jegede Babes before her first call-up to the national team. As a Super Flacons player, Mercy won the maiden female African Footballer of the Year in 2001. She won 3 African championships and was included in the 1999 and 2004 FIFA World All-Star team.
12. Esther Onyema: Being physically challenged has not deterred Esther in her quest to achieve her dreams as a powerlifter. Esther won gold and silver medals at the 2012 and 2016 Paralympics in London and Rio, Brazil respectively. She was also part of the Nigerian contingent to the 2014 Glasgow Commonwealth Games where she won a gold medal in the 61kg women powerlifting category.