Tag Archives: Nigeria

Brume comes of age as she claims Long Jump GOLD! Okagbare’s absence is “Blessing in Disguise”…

1 Aug

Ese Brume became Nigeria’s new Long Jump sensation on Thursday night as she jumped to a distance 0f 6.56m to claim the Long Jump crown at the ongoing Commonwealth Games! England’s Jazmin Sawyers was second with 6.54m while Canada’s Christabel Netty placed third. One of the favourites of the competition and home girl, Shara Proctor (C’wealth No.3) had to pull out of the event after picking up an injury while attempting her first jump. Despite only qualifying for the final in 12th place with a 6.29m jump, Brume’s went into Silver medal position with 6.43m in her very first jump in the final. Her winning jump of 6.56m came in Round 3 and she subsequently did not relinquish the lead again!

Ese Brume on the podium, celebrating her C'wealth GOLD in the Long Jump!

Ese Brume on the podium, celebrating her C’wealth GOLD in the Long Jump!

Even though Brume came into the Games as Nigeria’s 2014 National Champion, not much was expected from her following a surprisingly out-of-sorts performance at the World Junior Championships in Eugene last week, where she failed to qualify for the final, only able to record one valid leap of 5.18m. As such, the Commonwealth GOLD medal performance represents a dramatic turnaround in just a few days for an athlete who was touted as a possible World Junior Champion but suffered the ignominy of finishing bottom of her qualifying group at those championships. Whatever the reasons behind that performance were, all is now forgotten! With Brume becoming the Commonwealth CHAMPION this early in her career, she has announced her arrival to the world with a bang, much like Okagbare did in winning an Olympic Bronze in the same event at Beijing ’08!

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Speaking of Okagbare, most will have assumed that the Long Jump GOLD was out of Nigeria’s reach following her opting out of the event for the 200m. But in hindsight it would seem that Okagbare’s absence was actually a Blessing in Disguise (no pun intended)! It allowed Brume the opportunity to compete with and triumph over several good, evenly-matched jumpers at similarly early stages of their careers, for the most part. Brume will now be in a prime position to follow Okagbare in developing into as world-class athlete over the next few years. As with Blessing, will we see Ese eventually diversify into the sprints? With her elegant frame and current PB of 11.80s in the 100m set in the domestic Golden League this year, we would not bet against her one day making serious waves on the global sprint scene!

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Ese Brume first came into national reckoning after winning the Long Jump at the 2012 National Sports Festival in Lagos, as well as two silver medals in the triple jump and high jump! She also scooped a silver medal for Nigeria during last year’s African Junior Championships in Mauritius!

Ese Brume at the Nigerian Trials in Calabar, on her way to winning the 2014 National Title

Ese Brume at the Nigerian Trials in Calabar, on her way to winning the 2014 National Title

 

 

Nigeria’s Americans fail to get 100m, 400m & 110m Hurdles COMMONWEALTH Medals – Why did we recruit them again?

29 Jul

Nigeria’s hopes of securing a Commonwealth medal in the men’s 100m ended last night at Hampden Park in Glasgow, as the country’s sole finalist Mark Jelks finished in fifth place in 10.17s. The title was won by Jamaica’s Kemar Bailey-Cole who stormed to gold in 10.00s flat and was closely followed by England’s Adam Gemili in 10.10s, to the clear delight of himself and the home crowd, while another Jamaican, Nickel Ashmeade got the bronze in 10.12s.

This is Jelk’s first outing for Nigeria, having recently switched allegiance from the US and though the 30-year-old was hoping for a podium finish, his efforts are nonetheless commendable, going by the fact that he was the only African in the final that boasted of three Jamaicans, amongst others. Jelks, who emerged National Champion at the Nigeria’s trials earlier this year was entered to the 100m alongside another newly acquired American athlete, 33-year-old Monzavous Edwards who finished 2nd in the trials, and Ogho-Oghene Egwero, 3rd at the trials. The duo however fell by the wayside, with Egwero finishing 8th in his semi-final with 10.40s while Edwards didn’t fare much better, trailing in 7th in his semi with 10.30s. Jelks had qualified for the final as one of the fastest losers in the semis where he posted a time of 10.13s.

Mark 'Amuju' Jelks, 2014 Nigerian 100m Champion, recently switched allegiances from Team USA

Mark ‘Amuju’ Jelks, 2014 Nigerian 100m Champion, recently switched allegiances from Team USA

In the absence of some of the tournament favourites and leading names such as Trinidad and Tobago’s Richard Thompson, No. 1 in the Commonwealth this year with 9.82s but failed to progress to the final, and Jamaica’s Nesta Carter (SB 9.98s), Asafa Powell, Yohan Blake and the big man himself Usain Bolt, one would have expected the newly converted athletes to have at least made an impact, going by the controversy that has trailed their acquisition of the Nigerian passport and their subsequent selection to Team Nigeria. One of them, Robert Simmons, did not even need to appear at the Nigerian Trials to suit up for his new country yesterday in the 400 metres, thus calling the whole selection process into question. Incidentally, he failed to finish his 400m heat, pulling up half way through due to injury!

Robbert Simmons, formerly of Team USA, now of Team Nigeria!

Robbert Simmons, formerly of Team USA, now of Team Nigeria!

In the 110m Hurdles on Tuesday morning, another American recruit, 28-year-old Tyron Akins, crashed out of the 110m Hurdles after finishing 4th in Heat 2 in a time of 13.75s. Akins won the Nigerian title at the trials in June, and at his best about 6 years ago he was a 13.25s runner. Former Team GB athlete Alex Al-Ameen, who qualifies to for the Green Passport by virtue of his Nigerian father, just scraped through to the final, qualifying as one of the fastest loser’s from Heat 1 in a time of 13.71s. As we predicted yesterday in our analysis, Akins and Al-Ameen were likely competing for one fastest loser spot, and that proved to be the case. Though Al-Ameen’s chances of making an impact in the final are slim to none, the 25-year-old should be encouraged as an athlete who COULD improve for Team Nigeria over the next 5 years!

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All this then begets the question we asked at the start of the week – were any of the recruited Americans really good enough to win Commonwealth GOLD in the first place? And if they are not good enough at THIS LEVEL, what on earth will happen when Team USA is in the mix, and Jamaica’s A-team return for the World Championships and Olympics in the next 2 years? Does Nigeria really need to adopt this strategy of recruiting older American athletes rather than developing our own future stars? Have they really justified their inclusion into the team? Should we not have allowed the likes of 22-year old Seye Ogunlewe, Nigeria’s best young sprint talent, the opportunity to experience individual 100m sprinting at the Commonwealth Games, while grooming him for years to come?

The jury is out on this one, but they have very nearly reached a verdict already, after just THREE days of Athletics action at the Games. The last of Nigeria’s  American recruits is Nichole Denby, who competes in the 100m Hurdles on Thursday. Can she fare any better? We won’t have long to wait to find out.

 

Mixed fortunes for Nigeria as Abugan makes 400m Commonwealth Games Final

29 Jul

Team Nigeria’s conquest for medals took a dramatic turn on Day 2 of athletics at the Hampden Park in Glasgow as Nigeria’s No.1, Folashade Abugan was the only one of three athletes to qualify from the semi-finals of the women’s 400m at the ongoing Commonwealth Games, through to the final on Tuesday night.

Abugan competed in Heat 2 of the semis, and missed out on automatic qualification as she finished third behind Jamaica’s Christine Day (51.02) and Shaunae Miller of the Bahamas in 2nd with 51.58s. However Abugan’s time of 51.71s qualified her as one of the fastest losers, along with Kineke Alexander of St. Vincent and the Grenadines who posted 52.12s behind Abugan.

Folashade Abugan at the World Relays in the Bahamas. She is Nigeria's 400m Champion in 2014, winning at the  Nigerian National Championships in 51.39s!

Folashade Abugan at the World Relays in the Bahamas. She is Nigeria’s 400m Champion in 2014, winning at the Nigerian National Championships in 51.39s!

Unfortunately, her compatriots, Omolara Omotosho and Regina George had no such luck as they both failed to make it to the final, after finishing 3rd and 6th respectively. Omotosho competed in Heat 1 and came agonizingly close to automatic qualification; she however missed out on a place in the final as she finished 3rd in 52.34s, trailing Jamaica’s Stephanie McPherson (50.69s) and Kelly Massey of England (52.19s) who beat her near the line as she started to tie up and lose her form in the final straight. 

More surprising was the performance of Regina George who finished a distant sixth with 53.48s in Heat 3 which was won by the Commonwealth’s top athlete, Novlene Williams-Mills in 50.73s. The Jamaican was followed by defending champion, Amantle Montsho (50.96s) and England’s Margaret Adeoye who returned a time of 52.48s in 3rd. George, the darling of many Nigerian fans could not replicate the form that saw her inspire Nigeria to a bronze medal finish at the inaugural edition of the IAAF World Relays in the Bahamas earlier this year. Rumour has it that the 22-year old was carrying an injury after the heats, and as such couldn’t post a performance deserving of a place in the final. One wonders though why she was picked ahead of Patience Okon George, who finished ahead of her in the National Trials in third place, and really ought to have run the individual 400m, unless she was injured!

Abugan will be engaged in the battle for supremacy ahead of Tuesday’s final when she goes against a star-studded field which includes Williams-Mills, Day and Montsho (1st, 2nd and 3rd fastest in the Commonwealth this year). She comes to the field with the second slowest time and will need to extra inspiration if she is to get to the podium on Tuesday. As we predicted yesterday, Abugan was the surest bet to reach the final, and is so doing confirms her position as Nigeria’s No. 1 this year. She will have to watch out for the Jamaicans who coincidentally dominated the various heats. Can she pull of the same kind of upset that saw her dethrone Regina George as national champion?

 

Another American, Robert Simmons, switches allegiances to Team Nigeria @ Commonwealth Games

28 Jul

Watch out for the first ever appearance 25-year-old American Robert Simmons in Nigeria’s colours in the 400 metres at 11.46am – it is unlcear when and how Simmons switched allegiance to Team Nigeria, considering that he did not appear at the National Trials in Calabar in June, which should have served as the qualifiers for the Commonwealth Games. Omeiza Akerele finished 3rd at the trials but was part of Nigeria’s team at the World Junior Championships which just concluded in the US yesterday, so perhaps the decision was made for him to compete there instead!

For anyone arriving late to this party, there has been a lot of controversy surrounding Nigeria’s new American recruits, who largely dominated proceedings at the Nigerian Trials in June, particularly regarding their eligibility for the Green Passport of Nigeria, and whether they are good enough to win global medals for Nigeria. According to Simmons’ IAAF Profile, he has a PB of 45.19s set this season, which places him 18th amongst Commowealth Athletes this season, suggesting that though he is an improvement on Nigeria’s current quarter-milers who have struggled to break 46 seconds for some time now, he is unlikely to win a medal at these Games.

The question on his eligibility for the Nigerian passport is another one altogether. We will update you when we found out more about his switch!

 

Men’s 400m ROUND 1 TODAY

11.32am – Heat 2 – Salihu Isah (NGR No. 1, C’wealth No. 49) vs Wayde Van Niekerk (RSA, C’wealth No. 4)

11.39am – Heat 3 – Noah Akwu (NGR No. 2, outside C’wealth Top 50) vs Kirani James (GRN, Olympic Champion & C’wealth No. 1)

11.46am – Heat 4 – Robert Simmons (American – never competed for Nigeria previously! C’wealth No. 18)

Robbert Simmons, formerly of Team USA, now of Team Nigeria!

Robbert Simmons, formerly of Team USA, now of Team Nigeria!

Nigeria’s American Athletes – Are they good enough to win Commonwealth Medals?

26 Jul

There has been much controversy and talk since June at the Nigerian Trials for the Commonwealth Games, which heralded a new era of American Athletes with little or no clear lineage from Nigeria attending and dominating at those National Championships. While there has been widespread disapproval by some former Nigerian Olympians and local coaches of this new practice of recruiting Americans to represent Nigeria, there has also been a lingering school of thought which has followed the reasoning that, surely if they are better than what we have at home, they should be allowed to represent Nigeria? IF they can win medals for Team Nigeria at international competitions, then why not?

Well, here at MAKING OF CHAMPIONS we have crunched some very interesting numbers, to show you exactly what chance (IF ANY) our new American recruits have of winning medals at the Glasgow Commonwealth Games, where the Athletics programme is kicking off tomorrow. We have EXCLUSIVELY put together 2014 Commonwealth Athlete rankings to analyse Nigeria’s medal chances in FOUR events that our new Athletes will be competing in – the men’s 100m, 200m, 11om Hurdles, and the women’s 100m Hurdles!

Today, we analyse the chances of Nigeria’s current 100m  Champion, 30-year-old Mark Jelks, and runner-up in both 100m and 200m at the Nigerian trials, 33-year-old Monzavous Edwards, both of whom recently switched allegiances from Team USA to Team Naija. Have they improved Nigeria’s mens sprint pool?

*Divine Oduduru ran a wind-assisted 20.25s (2.3m/s) to win Silver at World Juniors in Eugene on July 25th 2014. Had the wind not been above the 2.0m/s limit for records, he would place 11th in the 200m list!

*Divine ran a wind-assisted 20.25s (2.3 m/s) to win Silver at World Juniors in Eugene on July 25th 2014. Had the wind not been above the 2 m/s limit for records, he would place 11th in the 200m list!

Despite the fact that Jelks is CURRENTLY faster than anyone else on Team Nigeria in the 100 metres, he only places 30th among Commonwealth Athletes in 2014 – ahead of him are EIGHT Jamaicans, SEVEN Brits, FOUR Trinadadians, TWO South Africans, TWO from St Kitts & Nevis and one each from four other countries. Even when you take into account that each country can only enter three athletes per event, it becomes very apparent that Jelks may well struggle to reach the Commonwealth 100m final, let alone win a medal! The odds of Edwards reaching the 100m final are even much slimmer – he’s only ranked 64th amongst Commonwealth athletes this year, and would be very difficult the argue that he is an upgrade from the likes of upcoming 22 year old Seye Ogunlewe, and former Nigerian Champions Egwero and Metu.

Mark 'Amuju' Jelks, 2014 Nigerian 100m Champion, recently switched allegiances from Team USA

Mark ‘Amuju’ Jelks, 2014 Nigerian 100m Champion, recently switched allegiances from Team USA

The emergence of Divine Oduduru with a World Junior Silver in the 200 metres in a stunning wind-assisted time of 20.25s also further calls into question the necessity (or indeed the wisdom) of recruiting older Americans to represent Nigeria. Oduduru, who could be representing Nigeria for another ten years or more, had already comfortably beaten 33-year-old Edwards at the Nigeria Trials with a time of 20.87s to 21.34s, a time that does not even rank Edwards in the top 100 in the Commonwealth for 200 metres this year – indeed only one year in his whole career did he run faster than 20.40s (he has a 20.17s PB from 2009). It would be surprising to see Edwards make it out of Round 1 in Glasgow, if he indeed attempts the 200 metres this week. There are already calls for Oduduru to be flown directly from Glasgow to Eugene to compete in the 200 metres which starts on Wednesday, so that Nigeria could have a decent showing in the event!

Monzavous 'Jolomi' Edwards, recently switched allegiances from Team USA, and placed second in the 100 metres at the 2014 Nigerian Trials

Monzavous ‘Jolomi’ Edwards, recently switched allegiances from Team USA, and placed second in the 100 metres at the 2014 Nigerian Trials

Finally, given all the countries listed above who have TWO or more athletes in the 100m Top 30 (Jamaica, England, Trinidad & Tobago, South Africa, St Kitts & Nevis) and even the Bahamas who has THREE in the top 35, we have to say that it is also rather unlikely that Nigeria will get a medal in the men’s 4x100m Relay next weekend, and the presence of the Americans does absolutely nothing to change that…

MoC PREDICTIONS for the men’s sprints:

Men’s 100 metres – Jelks could scrape into the 100m final in Glasgow, but a semi-final outing is most likely. Egwero & Edwards should reach the Semis too, but one of them may fall in the first round!

Men’s 200 metres – Edwards will not make it out of the first round, especially if he has contested the 100 metres already. Oduduru could possibly make the Semis, but will also fall in the 1st round IF he doesn’t arrive in Glasgow well ahead of Wednesday to get some much needed rest.

Men’s 4×100 metres – With or without the Americans in the squad, Team Nigeria should reach the final, but without some unexpected baton drops or lane infringements from 2 or 3 countries ahead of us, don’t expect a medal. Stranger things have happened we suppose, so one can still hope!

MoC VERDICT: The American recruits have NOT sufficiently improved Nigeria’s mens sprint pool to really justify their inclusion. We will stand corrected if they are able to prove our predictions wrong in the coming days!

 

 

 

Oduduru wins 200m World Junior Silver with wind-assisted 20.25s, equalling 5th fastest Nigerians all-time!

26 Jul

Divine Oduduru became the first Nigerian to run as fast as 20.25s in the 200 metres for TWELVE YEARS, as he raced to a silver medal behind USA’s Tentravis Friday (20.04s) at the ongoing World Junior Athletics Championships in Eugene, USA for U-20 athletes. Oduduru’s official Personal Best remains as 20.66s, which he ran in the semi-final the day before, because his 20.25s was run with a tailwind of 2.3m/s, which makes it ineligible for record purposes as it is over the legal limit of 2.0m/s. Nevertheless, it is an incredible performance whose won the Nigerian Trials in 20.87s, and has a lifetime best of 10.30s in the 100 metres. His progression over the last year has been nothing short of meteoric, given that a year ago he was running 21.13s set at the World Youth Championships in Ukraine!

The significance of Divine’s run cannot be overstated – he beat much more heavily favoured athletes such as Jamaica’s Michael O’Hara (who beat him in the heats and semi-finals) into 3rd place and Anguilla’s Zharnel Hughes (who trains with Usain Bolt’s coach) into 5th place, and in so doing matched the FIFTH fastest men on Nigeria’s all-time list in the 200 metres! That will not be an official statistic given that it was wind-assisted, but his potential to run such a time NOW should fill Nigerians with excitement that perhaps we have an athlete here whom, with the right guidance and training, could become a serious Olympic medal contender in 2 year’s time! This result is certainly a breath of fresh air in what has so far been a bitterly disappointing championships for Nigeria. Even at the last edition in Barcelona 2 years ago, Team Naija came home with no medals, so this is a result definitely worth celebrating!

There had been some talk about why Divine was not also entered into the 100 metres at these championships, and his coaching crew must be commended for picking their battles wisely – the 100m Champion from these games, USA’s Kendal Williams failed to make it to the 200m final, likely due to exhaustion, a serious factor to consider at the U-20 level. The big question now is, does Nigeria have any plans to ship him straight over to Glasgow to compete in the Commonwealth Games in the coming week? He was listed on the Commonwealth Games team following the Nigerian trials, but it remains to be seen if his participation in the 200m in Glasgow has been properly planned for. Commowealth 200m starts this Wednesday (July 30th) – watch this space!
Photo finish of Divine Oduduru's 2nd place finish in the 200m at the 2014 World Juniors,  in a wind-assisted time of 20.25 seconds!

Photo finish of Divine Oduduru’s 2nd place finish in the 200m at the 2014 World Juniors,
in a wind-assisted time of 20.25 seconds!

 
Nigeria’s 200 metres TOP FIVE (All-time)
 
1. Francis Obikwelu19.84s (1999), 20.01 (2000), 20.05 & 20.06 (1999)
2. Daniel Effiong20.10 (1994)
3. Olapade Adeniken20.11 (1992)
4. Oluyemi Kayode (RIP)20.22 (1992)
5. Davidson Ezinwa20.25 (1992)
5. Deji Aliu20.25 (2002)

MAKING OF CHAMPIONS celebrates 1-year anniversary with new LOGO!

16 Jul

Making of Champions (MoC) Ltd, the company founded by Sports Entrepreneur & Film-Maker Bambo Akani, is a year old this month, and ahead of the start of the Commonwealth Games next week, we are celebrating our 1-year anniversary with the launch of this AWESOME brand new logo!

Making of champs3a cropped

The Making of Champions Movement has come a long way in the past year. It all started with the Making of Champions: “The History” film, which was made to showcase Nigeria’s rich Olympic medal history in Athletics (Track & Field) and lays the foundation for how Nigeria can return to reckoning on the world stage! And that is what this movement is all about. The first major highlight for the company came in August 2013 following the World Championships in Moscow, when the then Nigerian Sports Minister, Mallam Bolaji Abdullahi, personally commended MoC Founder Bambo Akani for his reporting on this blog of Blessing Okagbare winning Nigeria’s first World Championship medals in 14 years. At the behest of the Minister, Bambo was flown in from London to Abuja as a Sports Consultant to help run a 3-day strategy session on installing a High Performance System for Sports in Nigeria!

2013 ended with an international roadshow for Making of Champions: “The History”, where we took the film to 4 different cities across 3 continents, including Atlanta, London and Abuja, where the Athletics Federation of Nigeria (AFN) President and Technical Director, Solomon Ogba and Omatseye Nesiama, were our special guests, along with Nigeria’s newly appointed High Performance Directors for Athletics and all Sports respectively, Eric Campbell and Angie Taylor! The film consequently premiered at the iREP Documentary Film Festival in March 2014 and has received rave reviews everywhere it has screened! A special pre-Commonwealth Games Screening will take place at Eko Hotel this Sunday July 20th at 4pm. This will be the Nigerian Athletics Event of the year – don’t miss it!

Another highlight of 2013 was the Road to Brazil Documentary Shoot, which took place in Salvador Da Bahia in Brazil during the World Cup Draw in December! It featured several Portuguese-speaking Nigerian Exchange Students from Obafemi Awolowo University who were in Salvador for their year abroad programme, and were lucky enough to be there when the Super Eagles played in the Confederations Cup! Road to Brazil also featured several Brazilians fans and an Argentinian super-fan showing their support for the Super Eagles, such was the goodwill for Nigeria in Salvador, a city infused with Nigerian and Yoruba cuisine, language and religion, passed on from the slaves who were taken there during the transatlantic slave trade centuries ago! Road to Brazil was released online as a series of shorts during the World Cup, in support of a Nigeria team that did the nation proud with a 2nd round showing!

At the very core of Making of Champions is the firm belief that Nigeria can become the No. 1 Track & Field nation in the world within 5 years, and 2014 has been all about setting those lofty ambitions into motion! MoC Social Media was launched in April 2014, and in just THREE months, the interest and engagement for Nigerian Athletics has been overwhelming – we already have well nearly 6,000 fans across our social media platforms on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram! Our YouTube Channel has over 60 videos with a combined 12,500 views since 2013, while the viewership of this blog has more than quadrupled from just 3,000 in 2013, to over 13,000 in the first seven months of 2014! We are steadily growing a fan base and viewership that will soon attract the support of Corporate Nigeria to our cause, which is to revolutionise Athletics in Nigeria!

With such unprecedented growth of our Athletics fan base, MoC Ltd has also has to expand to keep up with the high demand for our content. We brought on a team to help with our Social Media Launch in April, and since then we have also brought on volunteers to write stories for the blog and manage our social media handles! The expansion will continue and very soon we will be recruiting for full-time Social Media Managers and Sports Journalists to write our stories. Once we have investor or sponsor funding in place, we will also be making hires for Sports Administration and Management Professionals, as well as coaches, as we seek to launch Nigeria’s first ever Professional Track Club, to train athletes at home to become our future Olympic and World Champions!

Perhaps the highlight of 2014 so far has been our live media activation at the first ever World Relay Competition in the Bahamas, which MoC Founder Bambo Akani attended as an accredited photographer and captured Team Nigeria’s best images from the competition, including a fantastic Bronze medal in the women’s 4×400 metres. He also coordinated a poignant Bring Back Our Girls campaign which the whole Athletics community participated in, from the star athletes such as Blessing Okagbare, Christine Ohuruogu and Yohan Blake, right up to the IAAF President himself, Lamine Diack. Bambo also reported live from the Nigerian National Championships in June, and from March to June he appeared as an athletics pundit in a new weekly segment on the Sports Tonight Show with Toyin Ibitoye on Channels TV!

We’re only half way through the 2014 Athletics season, and we’re building up to our live activation at the Commonwealth Games in Scotland next week, as well as the African Athletics Championships in Morocco in August. There’s also still plenty more to come from the International Diamond League circuit, which we have been reporting on, including live social media during each event! These are truly exciting times for us, as we believe that this is the beginning of the revival of Team Nigeria at the Olympics! Join us in celebrating our 1-year anniversary at the special pre-Commonwealth Games Screening of Making of Champions: “The History” at Eko Hotel, VI, Lagos this Sunday at 4pm!

MAKING OF CHAMPIONS FILM SCREENING @ EKO HOTEL on Sunday July 20th @ 4pm!

15 Jul

With the World Cup now over, and Team Nigeria getting ready to go in the Commonwealth Games starting this week, Making of Champions Ltd brings you the EXCLUSIVE Pre-Commonwealth Games screening of our new Athletics Documentary Film, MAKING OF CHAMPIONS: “The History”! 

MoC Eko Hotel Screening Poster

See below for the synopsis and teaser for the film! Let’s get behind Team Nigeria and Make Champions! Admission is FREE, however be sure to RSVP to management@makingofchamps.com to confirm your attendance! We hope to see you there on Sunday!

 

SYNOPSIS

In late 2012, independent filmmaker Bambo Akani started the journey of making the feature-length documentary, Making of Champions: “The History” after seeing a country as populous as Nigeria, blessed with so many people of natural athletic ability, return from the London 2012 Olympics with a sum total of ZERO medals – the first time Nigeria had failed to medal at the Olympics since Seoul ’88. In truth, the decline has been steady since the Sydney 2000 Olympics – we just did not realise it.

Making of Champions: “The History” is a 75-minute film capturing Nigeria’s full Olympic medal history in Athletics (Track & Field) and lays the foundation for how Nigeria can return to reckoning on the world stage:

Making of Champions: “The History” traverses the globe to meet Nigeria’s former Olympic heroes and tell the stories of how they won their Olympic medals – Mary Onyali, Falilat Ogunkoya and Enefiok Udo-Obong, the only double Olympic medallists in Nigeria’s history, and Innocent Egbunike who was Nigeria’s head coach at the London 2012 Olympics. We meet former Nigerian medallists Francis Obikwelu and Glory Alozie in Portugal and Spain respectively, to find out why they switched from Nigeria to represent their adopted countries and finally, we meet all of Jamaica’s star athletes, such as Yohan Blake and Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, to find out why the Jamaicans are so fast!

The ultimate goal for the film is to awaken Nigerians to the vast potential we have in Track and Field, rekindle the national interest for the sport, and start a movement that will enable Team Nigeria to once again compete with the best in the world! Why have we fallen so far? How can we get back to winning medals on the global stage? What does it take to Make Champions in Track and Field? This film answers all these questions and more, and is a call to arms for Nigerians everywhere to ensure that the legacy of heroes past is not lost forever in a sport in which Nigeria has limitless potential!

Athlete Interview: ALEX AL-AMEEN – 2nd place in 110m Hurdles at Nigerian Trials, formerly of Team GB!!!

4 Jul

25 year-old Alex Al-Ameen speaks exclusively to MAKING OF CHAMPIONS after finishing 2nd in the 110 metre hurdles (in 13.75s) at the 2014 Nigerian Trials

Congratulations for your 2nd place in the 110 hurdles at the Nigerian Trials. How do you feel about your race?

It was an okay race – I didn’t get out as well as I did yesterday (in the semis), but I had to go to the passport office this morning. They made me wait there for an hour, and then when I got here, the race was delayed by half an hour, so considering the conditions, I reckon that I ran an okay race

I can detect a bit of a British accent in your voice? How long have you been competing for Nigeria?

Yes, I am from London. This is my first time competing at the Nigerian Championships. My dad is Nigerian, and my mum is English, and I just recently got my (Nigerian) passport, so I am able to compete for Nigeria this year at the Commonwealth Games and African Champs. 

So how long have you been an athlete?

I’ve been doing it since I was 14. I went to the World Junior Championships for Great Britain and made the semi-finals, and I have been doing it ever since. This year, I’ve started taking it seriously with my coach, and ever since then I have been running PBs – I can’t complain

How old are you now?

I just turned 25.

So what made you decide to switch from representing Team GB to representing Nigeria?

Well, to be honest, I didn’t get picked by England for the Commonwealth Games, I was No. 4 for Great Britain. I knew that if I came to Nigeria I might have the opportunity to compete at the highest level, because I know that I can perform at the highest level. That’s how I came to my decision

So your 2nd place here means you have qualified for the Commonwealth Games for Team Nigeria, so congratulations. 

Thank you.

How do you feel about going up against the other countries, particularly the England team which you didn’t get into? What are your hopes for the Commonwealth Games?

Well, to be honest, my aspirations are to make the final, and I believe that I can mix it with the best of them. I just got my visa on Monday and booked my flight and come straight here, so my preparation hasn’t been that good for these championships, but I know that I am getting better with every race. Yesterday I ran 13.56s, my second fastest time, so I am getting better with every race. 

Ok, well congratulations again and see you at the Commonwealth Games!

Thank you.

Alex Al-Ameen, recently switched allegiances from Team GB, and placed second in the 110m Hurdles at the 2014 Nigerian Trials (his father is Nigerian)

Alex Al-Ameen, recently switched allegiances from Team GB, and placed second in the 110m Hurdles at the 2014 Nigerian Trials (his father is Nigerian)

* A week after the Nigerian Trials, Al-Ameen also competed at the British Athletics Championships (last weekend) in the 110m Hurdles, finishing 3rd in 13.64s. At this stage it is unclear whether this means he is still in contention for a place on Team England for the Commonwealth Games, after having already been named in Team Nigeria for the Commonwealth Games.

One former Nigerian Athlete who has made his feelings about the recruitment of US and UK athletes to Team Nigeria is Double Olympic Medallist Enefiok Udo-Obong, who did not mince words earlier this week on his blog where he expressed his strong feelings about Al-Ameen’s candidacy to represent Nigeria!

Athlete Interview: MONZAVOUS EDWARDS – 2nd place in 100m at Nigerian Trials, formerly of Team USA!!!

3 Jul

33 year-old Monzavous Edwards speaks exclusively to MAKING OF CHAMPIONS after finishing 2nd in the 100 metres (in 10.39s into -2.3 m/s headwind) at the 2014 Nigerian Trials

Monzavous, how are you feeling about your performance?

I’ll take it. I know it’s not my best, but you can never complain when the main focus was to make it to the Commonwealth. I finished in the Top 3, so the main objective was completed. I’m not satisfied, nor happy with my result, but like I said, I’ll take it.

These Trials and the Warri Relays last week – is it your first times competing for Team Nigeria? 

Yes

Can you tell us about your journey from competing for USA to Nigeria – what made you decide to make the switch?

It was an appreciation for the sport, and more of an appreciation of me as an athlete and a sprinter. In America there’s so much competition that it is hard to be appreciated for all the hard work that you put in. And having the chance to get with my family and switch to Nigeria. Since I’ve made that switch, I’ve felt more than appreciated as a professional athlete. So that was the main reason for it.

You mentioned your family just now. Can you tell us a bit about that – what are your connections to Nigeria, in terms of your heritage?

It’s from my grandparents. Actually, it’s from my great-great-grandparents, if I said that right. Let me see…1, 2 (counts on his fingers)…yeah I said it right. 

So what’s your PB in the 100 metres?

9.95 seconds

Wow, that’s impressive. When did you do that?

In 2010.

What are your hopes for the Commonwealth Games, and competing for Team Nigeria generally – do you think you can take your PB lower? 

Actually, I know I can because for the last 2 years I have dealt with injuries so it’s been a climb to get back. I know where my training is at, and I know where I am at. I’ve only been here a week, and it usually takes my body up to 10 days to get acclimated, so I know that I am sub-10 ready. For the Commonwealth Games I am looking to make sure that I win, with something around the 9.8 range, because I will have time to get there and get used to it. Athletes are different and bodies are different. Some athletes can get acclimated quicker, some take longer. I’ve been doing this sport for some years now and it takes me about 10 days. 

You better get to Glasgow quickly then?

Yeah I already told them, I need to be in Glasgow like 2 weeks before!

Is this your first time in Nigeria? What has the experience been like so far?

Yes. So far I have loved. I have to be honest with you, I have loved every bit of it. The weather is a bit hot, but other than that it’s been wonderful

Final question for you. Best to get this out of the way now because you will get it later on down the line – can you tell us about the gold teeth?

Well, I had an accident back in 2013 – I actually have a metal plate in my chin, and I lost some teeth in the accident, so I had my mouth wired shut for 3 months, so that’s actually how I got the gold teeth. 

Was it a car accident?

No actually I fainted – I had a mild seizure and when I fell, I fell on my face. So this is a metal plate – I lost all these teeth at the top, and the ones at the bottom don’t work as the nerves are dead. 

Wow, so there’s a good reason for it.

Oh yeah, yeah. It’s not for fashion! Definitely not for fashion! 

Monzavous 'Jolomi' Edwards, recently switched allegiances from Team USA, and placed second in the 100 metres at the 2014 Nigerian Trials

Monzavous ‘Jolomi’ Edwards, recently switched allegiances from Team USA, and placed second in the 100 metres at the 2014 Nigerian Trials

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