The 2016 Rio Summer Olympic Games is just less than a week away and Nigeria has got a first ever rower, Cheirika Ukogu.
Cheirika Ukogu will be representing the western African country in Rio come August.
Ukogu is an American born to Nigerian immigrants. She has, however, chosen to wear the green white green colors of Nigeria at the Olympic games.
Ukogu was inspired to compete at Rio after watching the first ever and only African rower at the London Olympic games, Hamadou Djibo Issaka, grace the bottom.
Issaka had allegedly picked up rowing only a few months to the Olympic games and his limited experience could not give him the competitive edge to bring home the gold.
Ukogu states that it was there and then that she decided she wanted to change the narrative about Africans in competitive rowing sports.
If I show people that nothing is impossible, if I can spread that message, I’ve done my job. A lot of people say, ‘How do you do all these things? How are you so determined?’ I know being in the U.S. has given me amazing opportunities, and I have to take advantage of them, not only for me, but for other people — Cheirika Ukogu
The 23-year old graduate of Stanford University also wants to use this platform to advocate for the rowing sport in Nigeria and Africa at large. She reckons that the sport is not common place in Nigeria, hence our little to no representatives at international rowing competitions.
Cheirika Ukogu qualified to represent Nigeria at Rio during the during the 2015 Fédération Internationale des Sociétés d’Aviron (FISA) African Olympic Qualification Regatta. She has been training at the Vesper Boathouse at Schuylkill, Philadelphia, United States.