A Record Breaker That Represented Nigeria as A Footballer and An Athlete

Chioma Ajunwa, a legendary Nigerian woman, represented Nigeria as both a footballer and an athlete.

BACKGROUND

Chioma Ajunwa was born on 25 December 1970 in Umuchukwu in the Orumba South Local Government Area of Anambra state, but she is from Imo. She is the only girl and the last born of nine children in her family.

Chioma Ajunwa initially played football for the Nigerian women’s team but then made a transition into athletics. Ajunwa performed notably as a track and field athlete at the African Games and African Championships between 1989 and 1991 before being banned from the sport for four years.

Chioma Ajunwa was a member of The Falcons during the Women’s World Cup in 1991, and she is the first African woman to win an Olympic gold medal in a field event. Following the completion of her drug-related ban from competition for four years after failing a drug test in 1992, despite Ajunwa maintaining her innocence.

On October 1, 2010, Nigeria celebrated with fanfare its 50th Independence anniversary. As part of that celebration, on Thursday, September 30, 2010, President Goodluck Jonathan conferred special Golden Jubilee Independence Awards on 50 distinguished Nigerians and friends of Nigeria, including Chioma Ajunwa, for their various roles and contributions to the development of the country. Being selected from among millions of other achievers and listed among the founding fathers of the Nigerian nation, most of whom Chioma read about in History class made Chioma say “It is the Lord’s doing. I am grateful to God”. This award no doubt will further intensify the patriotic fire that burns in her heart for Nigeria and Nigerians.

On Friday, April 30, 2010, Chioma Ajunwa delivered a powerful paper on “War against the use of illicit Drugs in Sports” at an Interactive Session organized by the Athletics Federation of Nigeria (AFN) for Athletes as part of the 3rd Leg of AFN Golden League at Yaba College of Technology Sports Complex, Yaba, Lagos. The abridged version of this paper titled “Fighting the Root Causes of Doping in Athletics” is available on the cyberspace.

In the second half of the year 2010, Chioma stepped up her anti-doping activities by starting an integrated campaign aptly tagged ‘Compete Fair & Clean’. This initiative, which she has so far personally financed, involves communicating anti-doping messages directly to budding athletes and their coaches at athletic events. Awareness and Red-flag workshops and seminars are being organized with the kind cooperation of the Athletics Federation of Nigeria (AFN). She also enjoys the support and solidarity of former national athletes. At athletic meets, banners are placed at stadiums, and informative publications, as well as t-shirts with punchy anti-doping messages, are given to athletes and coaches. The response of the target audience has been massive.

She is currently the Divisional Police Officer (DPO) of Meran police station in Lagos.

Ajunwa went to Primary school and further to secondary school. She later gained admission into the university but was unable to register due to her mother’s inability to pay the fees. She later completed her education.

Talking about her career, Ajunwa said she did not regret the decision to leave football because she has made her mark in athletics. She said she could have continued with football, but there was a particular coach who knew then that she was the best player in the team but he decided to keep her on the bench throughout their matches, so she left the team’s camp.

Chioma Ajunwa performed notably as a track and field athlete at the African Games and African Championships between 1989 and 1991. Chioma Ajunwa went on to become the first African woman, as well as the first Nigerian, to win an Olympic gold medal in a track and field event – Ajunwa emerged victorious in the women’s long jump event at the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta, Georgia, with a jump of 7.12m (for her first attempt) during the final. The Nigerian athlete’s profession whilst completing many of the aforementioned achievements was that of an officer with the Nigerian Police Force.

Following her winning of Olympic gold medal at the 1996 Summer Olympic Games in Atlanta, United States, Chioma Ajunwa was given a national award – Member of the Order of Niger (MON) – by the then Head of State of Nigeria Sani Abacha.

Chioma was married for many years, and when children were not forthcoming, she was worried, but her husband, a pastor, always consoled her. Today, she is happily married and blessed with children.

She was born into “a very poor home,” according to her; Ajunwa was the last of nine children, with six brothers and two sisters.

At age eighteen, Ajunwa, who had been a keen athletics participant during her school years, gained admission into the university but was unable to register due to her mother’s inability to pay the fees since her father died while she was still young, and he left the nine children for his wife and his family.

Chioma Ajunwa initially played football for the Nigerian women’s team. She specialized in 100m, 200m, and long jump, eventually competing at the African Championships in 1989 and the All Africa Games in 1991, where she won gold medals in the long jump.

When her mother was unable to pay her fees to the university, she decided to become a motor mechanic but abandoned the idea later to becoming a Police Officer [DPO]

AWARDS, HONORS, LAURELS, AND RECOGNITIONS Olympic Gold Medalist, Member of the Order of Niger [MON] Award, Nigeria Golden Jubilee Independence Awards

Community Chieftaincy Title Imo State awarded her a chieftaincy title. Chairperson of the Women’s Development Committee of Imo State Football Association.2011

Member of Committee on the Revival of the Nigeria Academicals Sports Competitions 2011.


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