Today, I’m blown away, I’m inspired by the strength, courage, brevity and patriotic heart of this young Nigerian female.
I stumbled upon her story recently, no one seems to know her before the Rio2016 Olympics. Her name is Chierika Ukogu, a 23-year old medical student based in Philadelphia, United States.
I don’t even know how to tell her story… I’m so moved by her determination and strong-will.
Nigeria had just set up her rowing, canoe and sailing Federation with a view of Tokyo 2020 in mind. No one had plans for the country to be represented in 2016. No one except ofcourse this hero -Chierika. She had e-mailed the Olympic Committee a few years earlier asking about representing the country as a rower in Rio but got no response.
As determined as she was, she put off medical school for two years to pursue her dream, and left her job in order to train six hours a day to qualify for this game. Her training, equipment, coaching, etc has been self-funded. She also set up a GoFundMe page to provide extra resources in order to make it to Rio to represent her father-land. She has dual citizenship though but chose to wear the green-white-green.
Bothered when a fellow African rower got mocked after a poor showing in London 2012 games, she made the Olympics a life goal.
She has just qualified for the semi-finals in the ongoing Rio2016 Olympics. Sadly, she won’t be competing for a medal though but ranking having finished fifth in the quarter- finals in her group which enabled her proceed to semi-finals. However, all I-we wish her is a great finish! Whether she wins a medal or not, her achievement deserves recognition.
I celebrate you Chierika and wish you the very best in this game and entire endeavors. So proud of you! ( Nigeria’s first ever rower represented in Rio2016)
PS: Don’t let any circumstance clip your wings, you can be all you wanna be.