‘Gold, silver and bronze have I all’

By Abiodun Adewale

Anything short of gold for any athlete is usually regarded as a consolation.

But at times, it becomes something special when an athlete is able to win gold, silver and bronze at a single championship, and that is the story of Olayinka Olajide, one of the breakout stars of Nigerian athletics at the just-concluded 2023 African Games in Ghana.

In what was her first international appearance for Nigeria, the 21-year-old won bronze in the women’s 100m, silver in the 200m and capped it with a gold in the women’s 4x100m, running the second leg in the quartet that also had Justina Eyakpobeyan, Moforehan Abinusawa and Tobi Amusan.

She began with bronze in the women’s 100m final, winning Nigeria’s first medal in athletics at the Games.

That bronze was perhaps the toughest to win for her as she nicked Madagascar’s Claudine Njarasoa at the finish line by a thousandth of a second and becoming the first Nigerian woman in 13 years to win a medal in the event at the African Games since Oludamola Osayomi, Blessing Okagbare and Gloria Asumnu swept the podium at the Maputo Games in 2011.

In the 200m final, she upgraded to silver by clocking a personal best of 23.18s (-2.6) to finish second. She was close to nicking gold in the 200m, but Gambia’s Gina Bass held on to finish in 23.14s.

Before the 200m final on Friday, she ran the second leg in the women’s 4x100m relay on Wednesday to complete her set of medals at the Games with gold.

“I think right now I will give myself 100/100 because this is my first international competition and I’m going home with gold, silver and bronze. I’m not going home empty-handed. My coach put in the work and I executed, so I’m glad I did it,” Olajide told Making of Champions.

“I feel so blessed, that’s the word. I will just say hard work pays because we put in a lot of work into the 4x100m. We started training from Abuja and we continued here (Ghana). We were so determined to get the work done and we also did some more work on baton exchange before the race and we went there.”

In her individual races, Olajide was beaten twice by Bass in the 100m and 200m finals. Although she gave a stronger fight in the 200m, where she was milliseconds away from first position, unlike the 100m, where she was two places behind the Gambian.

She admitted that it was tough racing against the much-experienced Bass.

“Oh, she’s a very good athlete, a fantastic one. Before the 200m race, my coaches told me, ‘These people are going to beat you but make sure they work for it’ and I made sure they did that,” she said.

After breaking out at the MOC/MTN Champs athletics in Ibadan earlier this year, Olajide’s journey to Accra began at the national trials held in February, when she ran the fastest time by a Nigerian woman this year, taking the women’s 100m title with a new personal best of 11.19s.

“I feel so excited, like butterflies in my belly. I really need to appreciate my coach. Now I can see that hard work pays. There were times I wanted to give up because of the training because it was hard and intense but I’m so happy now that I’ve seen the results,” she said after the trials.

Olajide will be looking forward to her second international appearance at the African Athletics Championships in Cameroon in June, while the Paris 2024 Olympic Games will also follow.

Recommended For You

About the Author: Citypost

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *