It’s been long over due but now, Nigeria’s first Olympic Gold Medalist, 1996 Olympic gold medalist, Chief Mrs (Dr) Chioma Ajunwa-Opara, MON, 50, now with the police force, an assistant commissioner of police is been bestowed with national honours as vows are being redeemed by the Lagos State government.
The former athlete who specialised in the long jump was recently honoured by the state government with a three-bedroom apartment; this reportedly comes 25 years after the government made the promise.
This donation of the 3-bedroom Flat at the Babatunde Raji Fashola Housing Estate, Iponri, Lagos was announced by Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, on Thursday at Lagos House, Alausa.
Describing Ajunwa-Oparah’s feat as historic, Sanwo-Olu said it helped boost the country’s image and further heightened the hopes of young athletes.
“When Dr. Chioma Ajunwa-Oparah represented the country in the 1996 Olympic Games, some promises were made and very typical of us as a people, we forget. I have met and kept the promises of my predecessors in ensuring that our athletes get what they deserve,” the governor said during the presentation.
“She has remained a good reference point for sport, journalism and everything that relates to sport in our country. She is a true demonstration of can-do spirit, which reflects her decision to serve the country as a police officer after attaining a coveted position on an international sporting platform.
“We will continue to use her as a testimony to give women a strong voice and good representation in our sport organisations. We have made it compulsory to reserve 30 percent of positions to our women in Boards of sport organisations in Lagos.” The governor added.
Her feat in the US made her the first black African woman to win an Olympic gold medal in a field event
Mainwhile, former military administrator of the state Olagunsoye Oyinlola reacting to claims he had pledged to give Ajunwa-Oparah a house for winning the gold medal in long jump at the 1996 Atlanta Games in a statement on Friday, said what he announced for Ajunwa and other Olympic medalists in August 1996 were plots of land.
According to him “I hosted the Nigerian contingent to the 1996 Olympic games at the National Stadium, Lagos, on Saturday, August 10, 1996. At the event, I announced the donation, by the Lagos State Government, of one plot of land in Lekki to each of Chioma Ajunwa, Falilat Ogunkoya, Mary Onyali, Duncan Dokiwan, Fatima Yusuf, Charity Opara and 18 members of the Under-23 soccer team.
“I announced the gifts publicly and it was carried by all newspapers, radio and television stations in the country. Indeed, it was the front-page lead report of The Guardian of August 11, 1996. I made it clear that the 24 plots of land were complete with all the titles. Did Ajunwa get that plot of land? How about the others?
“For two members of the gold-winning Under-23 football team who hailed from Lagos State, Joseph Dosu and Teslim Fatusi, I announced that the state would build for each of them a two-bedroom apartment in any place of their choice.
“I also announced a gift of N2 million for sharing by the officials and all other members of the contingent who could not win a medal,” Oyinlola said.
Prince Oyinlola further explianing said that he hosted the contingent on August 10, 1996 while a new military administrator was announced for the state four days later on August 14. According to him, he therefore handed over to his successor on August 22, 1996, less than two weeks after he announced the gifts.
Chioma Ajunwa-Opara was brought to limelight after becoming the first Nigerian athlete to win an Olympic gold medal at the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta. To date she remains Nigeria’s only individual Olympic gold medalist. Chioma Ajunwa is the first black African woman to win an Olympic gold medal in a field event.