Home / News / Local / 2021 Olympics: Akwa Ibom celebrates Imaobong Nse Uko for making State proud; Wins US University scholarship

2021 Olympics: Akwa Ibom celebrates Imaobong Nse Uko for making State proud; Wins US University scholarship

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By Dennis Udoma, Uyo

Akwa Ibom born athlete, Imaobong Nse Uko, 17, who made Nigeria proud at the just concluded Tokyo Olympics in Japan was highly welcome by the Sports Minister, Mr. Sunday Dare, when Nigeria’s team to the World Athletics U-20 Championship in Nairobi, Kenya, touched down at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport in Abuja.

She was the only athlete to share a seat with the Minister while he was addressing the press, and comfortably so. Why won’t she? After all she made Nigeria proud by winning three gold medals, the highest by any athlete in the competition, and returned home the fastest U-18 Athlete in the World for 2021.

Her 400M gold medal came with a new African record and a new personal best at 5.55s and made her the fourth Nigerian to win a World Junior Athletics gold.

Others before her were Fatima Yusuf (at Bulgaria in 1990); Olabisi Afolabi (at Portugal in 1994) and Folashade Abugan (at Poland in 2008).

Imaobong’ s rise to stardom has been phenomenal, given the fact that she was first discovered at the Akwa Ibom Youth Sports Festival instituted by the administration of Governor Udom Emmanuel to discover talented youths in the state and set them on a path of growth and progress in the field of sports.

At the inaugural Festival in 2017, Imaobong came second in the 400M race. Undaunted and determined, she returned in 2018 and won the competition and got enlisted into Team Akwa Ibom for the National Sports Festival of that year.

At the National Sports Festival, she defeated older and more experienced athletes to win the 400M race at a personal best time of 52.36s. She was only 14 years of age. Two years later, at the 2020 National Sports Festival in Benin, Edo State, she defended her title with a new personal best time of 51.70s and equally anchored Team Akwa Ibom to win the Festival’s Women’s 4x 400 M gold medal. In between the two festivals, she had won the National U-18 championship in the same event.

She was invited to the national camp in preparation for the Tokyo Olympics.

At Tokyo, Japan, she blazed the trail along with three others; Emmanuel Ojeli, Simon Nathaniel and Patience Okon-George by setting a new African record in the Mixed 4x 400M race at a time of 3:13:60m to place 5th in the semi-final.

For her versatility in the three 400M based race, lead groomer of star athletes, Baylor University, Texas, awarded her a scholarship.

We celebrate Imaobong’s exploits as a compelling grass to grace story, a sharp turn from the lower rung of life to a great height of success.

She hails from Etinan Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom State but lived in Ibeno, where she helped her mother in the family’s crayfish business, before her discovery by Akwa Ibom Sports Ministry under Sir Monday Ebong Uko as Commissioner during local sports festival a couple of years ago.

Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Comrade Ini Ememobong did not mince words when he described her as, “a phenomenal twinkling star” for bringing home such honour.

He commended Governor Emmanuel for providing the platform that threw her up into the international sporting limelight.

The Information boss however, urged other youth in the State to emulate the young athlete by doing their best to write their names in gold stating that, Governor Emmanuel was ready to support them in their endeavours.

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