Today is International Women's Day and this year’s focus is on gender balance across the world. The theme for this year’s campaign is ‘Balance for Better’.
As the world celebrates International Women's Day, we cease this opportunity to celebrate the achievements of women in Nigeria; like Captain Chinyere Kalu, Prof. Grace Alele-Williams, Flora Nwapa, Justice Aloma Mukhtar, Prof. Dora Akunyili (OFR), Ambassador Adenike Oyagbola, Ibukun Awosika, Chief ‘Folake Solanke (SAN) and others. Today we celebrate Nigeria’s first Olympic Gold Medalist, Chioma Ajunwa MON.
Chioma Ajunwa-Opara is the first Nigerian athlete to win an Olympic gold medal and to date remains the only Nigerian Woman to have won such an Award.
In April 2010 she delivered a paper on "War against the use of illicit Drugs in Sports" at an Interactive Session organised by Athletics Federation of Nigeria (AFN) for Athletes as part of the 3rd Leg its Golden League at Yaba College of Technology Sports Complex, Yaba, Lagos state. She continued with the Anti-doping Awareness campaign, targeting athletes and their coaches. Her Foundation also educates sportsmen and women on the dangers of using illegal substances.
She hails from Ahiazu-Mbaise, Imo State and was born on December 25, 1970 to an average family. Things turned sour when her father died, leaving her mother to solely cater 9 children. Ajunwa was an active athletics participant in her Secondary school and at eighteen years, gained admission into university but was unable to register because her Mother could not afford the fees.
Chioma Ajunwa’s Career
- As a Mechanic
Ajunwa took up a mechanic job after her secondary school. At that time, women didn’t work as mechanics. She later gave it up because of the constant disapproval of her mother at her choice of work.
- As a Footballer
She joined the Nigerian Women’s football team and was part of the team that played the 1991 Women’s World cup. She played as an attacker and would have continued a career in football had it not been that she was constantly being benched.
- As an Athlete
As a Track and Field athlete, she specialized in the 100m and 200m race and Long Jump. She won a bronze medal in the 4 x 100 metres relay during the 1990 Commonwealth Games. In 1989, she competed at the African Championships in 1999 and she won gold medals in the long jump.
After failing a drug test in 1992, Chioma Ajunwa was banned for four years from the participating as an athlete regardless of her plea of innocence.
She returned in 1996, winning a gold medal in her first attempt, with a jump length of 7.12 metres Women’s Long Jump Finals at the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta; making her the first West-African woman and Nigerian to win an Olympic gold medal in a track and field game. Following her win, the then Head of State, Sani Abacha presented her with a Member of the Order of Niger (MON) award.
- As an Assistant Commissioner of the Nigerian Police Force
After her retirement from sports, she served as an officer of the Nigerian Police Force. Later on, she became the Divisional Police Officer (DPO) of Meran police station in Lagos. She is currently serving as the Assistant Commissioner of Police.
- 1996 Olympic Gold Medalist
- She received the Member of the Order of Niger (MON) award in 1996
- Chioma Ajunwa is the Chairperson of the Women’s Development Committee of Imo State Football Association.
- She is also a Member of Committee on the Revival of the Nigeria Academicals Sports Competitions
- 1990 bronze medalist during the 4x100m relay Commonwealth sports in Auckland.
- She also won a silver medal for Long Jump, in Paris, 1990
- Chairperson of the Women's Development Committee of Imo State Football Association.2011
- Member of Committee on the Revival of the Nigeria Academicals Sports Competitions 2011
- Member of Committee on the Revival of the Nigeria Academicals Sports Competitions
- Nigeria Golden Jubilee Independence Awards