By Ike A. Offor
It is an untainted and sheer display of pride and patriotism that a young girl, Onyebuchi Ememanka Chierika Ukogu, who could have easily represented United States of America, having qualified to do so, turned to represent the country of her parents, Nigeria.
The 23-years old Onyebuchi Ememanka Chierika Ukogu was born in United States by her Nigerian parents of Igbo extraction. She is by every definition a citizen of United Sates of America but she turned all down to represent a country that is in her heart.
She is a student of Standford Univeristy, a top Univeristy in United States, and she is currently representing Nigeria at the Rio Olympics in Rowing, a sport that is alien to Nigerian sport.
Since this sport is alien to Nigerian ministry of sports, she completely did everything in her power to bring the history of Rowing to the annals of Nigerian hitory. That is indeed history in the making for her and for the country she desperately loves, Nigeria.
She had to put her school program on hold and found time to train with the US Olympic team and qualified. She didn’t care about representing USA, which she could have comfortably done but, she chose to represent Nigeria.
Then, another hurdle to her dream to bring Nigeria to the history of Rowing was funding. The Nigerian ministry of sport headed by controversial Barr. Dalung, did not step in to help this dream come true for Nigeria. She was abandoned to fund herself all the way to Rio Olympics.
Chiemerika Onyebuchi did so through GO FUND ME app and raised funds that made it feasible for her to make it to Rio Olympics. Nigeria, as a country of her parents did not care about her and obviously did not care about her bringing the name of the country to Rowing sport history book. Her dream was to represent Nigeria and wear the national colour of Nigeria in the Olympics and she fullfilled that dream.
Onyebuchi Ememanka Chierika Ukogu, has beat all odds to qualify for the quarter finals in Rowing in the ongoing Olympics in Rio, Brazil. Now, it is the turn of Nigerians to cheer this highly patriotic Nigerian young lady to make Nigeria proud to the final and perhaps come home with medal.
The biggest honour here is not the medal but bringing the name of Nigeria to this sport that has never existed in our sport curriculum and the sheer love this girl has for Nigeria, a country she could easily ignore and stick with her United States citizenship. She is indeed an inspiritaion for aspiring young ones in Nigeria and beyond our shores.
Whether she brings home a medal or not, she has done Nigeria proud, though the same Nigeria has failed her. I hope the minister of sports, Mr Dalung and others in his ministry would understand and appreciate the meaning of this young girl’s sacrifice to Nigeria.