By Onochie Anibeze
In 2006, Vanguard published the first story on Ogho Oghene Egwuro. Winning the 100m event in the Delta State Sports Festival was newsworthy, knowing the pedigree of the state in track and field and their ability to churn out athletes.
But what made his victory unique was that he was just a local boy, too local that he was running with spike shoes for the first time. Yet he returned a sub 11 seconds performance.
“This is encouraging. I am impressed by this boy. I see a champion in him in the near future,” said now retired Coach Amelia Edet who was at Oghara, venue of the state festival. This statement turned prophetic. Egwuro became the fastest Nigerian at the last National Sports Festival in Kaduna and the last this reporter heard about him two weeks ago,Â was that he was running in some meets in Europe.
Four years after this Oghara outing, another star in the making emerged in a young girl called Bukola Peirera. July 4 was the day of Nkoyo Ibori Classics at the same Oghara Stadium. The athlete celebrated most was Bukola Peirera, the girl from Greater Tomorrow Club in Lagos. Her coach said she was 13 and the girl confirmed that to be her age. She really looked 13 or there about. She couldn’t be more than 15 years, truly young.
But at 13, she would not qualify to compete in the 10,000 meters. The IAAF would not allow that for being too young. This I put to her coach and he appeared not to know. But that was not the issue in Oghara. She was the attraction. She was the issue. She made everybody feel “here comes the one who can challenge the Kenyans and Ethiopians in long distance races.”
That could happen if the authorities help map out a programme for training in possibly Kenya and expose her to other factors that could make Nigeria maximize her potential.
“This is a potential, she is a star in the making,” veteran athletics coach Sergha Porbeni enthused.
The pace with which she started the race was same until she ended, gaping the rest with one and a half laps. She ran 36.39.32.
President of the Athletics Federation of Nigeria Solomon Ogba, his successor as the head of sports in Delta State, Amaju Pinnick celebrated the girl and her coach has been invited to national camp. Bukola is still in GS3.
“I want to be a champion. I want to do things on the track,” she managed to say as she looked shy after the race. “I like what I’m doing,” she said.
“If we can train this girl, she can be a champion in 1,500 meres,” Ogba said.”The best thing is to take such a girl to Kenya, put her in school there and a world champion is born,” Amaju said in congruity with this reporter.
Alternatively, a training programme can be worked out for her to proceed to Kenya during her holidays after which a comprehensive programme based on scholarship is planned. Like Egwuro, Oghara may be another starting point for another Nigerian star.