Chioma Ajunwa-Opara, 1996 Long Jump gold medalist and the first gold medalist in Nigeria’s Olympic Games history has taken up the challenge to unearth new Olympic gold champions for Nigeria through her Foundation, which is targeted at improving the lot of youngsters in sports.
Ajunwa while celebrating 25 years of that historic in Lagos said it was high time new world-beaters are discovered and nurtured to stardom. The Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP) at a press parley stressed the pertinent need to help discover new talents and help them grow to achieve their dreams.
“It is on record that I am the only person on earth that has played football to the World Cup level and also won Olympic gold in athletics. In line with the above, to celebrate the golden jump of 1996 Olympics Games, some activities have been lined up.
“We will have the Olympic Talent Hunt for girls in eight states of the federation, also the launching of six billion Naira Ultra-Modern Sports Development Centre in Owerri, Imo,” she revealed.
The Olympian said her greatest desire is to see young girls discover themselves and achieve greater heights.
“It is my fervent hope and wish that Nigeria as a country will produce more Chioma Ajunwas, Mary Onyalis, Falilat Ogunkoyas, and the Ezinwa brothers-and this can be done by initiating a deliberate and sustainable programme.
“We wish to use this medium to invite prospective partners, government, the private sector, philanthropists and well-meaning Nigerians around the world and of course the media.
“On behalf of the Chioma Ajunwa Foundation, and Akaji Ikukuoma Foundation, I’d like to thank God and the Federal Government of Nigeria for allowing me to serve,” she said.
The former Super Falcons star turned athlete said her foundation has already picked three sports: athletics, football and Taekwondo to celebrate the golden jump.
“The Olympic Talent Hunt is for girls between the age of 10 and 17 years,” she added.
“I have not seen an ex-international in Nigeria thinking about having his or her sports facilities. And in Nigeria, the government always protects the stadium more than the athletes, who are supposed to use them.
“Government will always tell you to train yourself and come for trials. That is what motivated me to build a hostel at Meiran, where the girls will be camped. We will make the Chioma Ajunwa Foundation a reference point in Nigeria’s sports.
Also speaking, Henry Amike, the Director General of the Chioma Ajunwa Foundation, said the tour to eight states to discover and groom talent would flag off from Lagos State. The other states are Abia, Anambra, Enugu, Ebonyi, Edo, Imo, and Abuja.
Ajunwa who is also the first black African woman to win an Olympic gold medal in a field event said the choice of eight states for the pilot phase of the talent hunt was because of the limited funds presently. She however assured that the program will go round the federation in due time.
A fundraising dinner will hold at the Transcorp Hotel, Abuja on August 19, as the Chioma Ajunwa Foundation launches a six billion naira ultra-modern Sports Development Centre in Owerri later in the year.
Several dignitaries including former Super Eagles captain, Segun Odegbami were at the Radisson Blu Hotel to celebrate Ajunwa’s past heroics and her new laudable mission.
“This would be one of the biggest things to happen in the history of Nigerian sports,” Mr Odegbami said on the new drive by Ajunwa through her Foundation.