By Jacob Ajom
Physically challenged athlete, Ifeanyi Christian who returned from Tunisia with three gold medals is on top of the world after proving once again that he is one of the best para-athletes in the world.
He was a class apart from his counterparts while representing Nigeria for the first time ever, as he put up a dominant display in the men’s 100m, 200m and 400m in the T46/47 class at the World Para Athletics Grand Prix, which held from June 28th to 30th in Tunis, Tunisia.
Christian was part of a four-man team of athletes to the Grand Prix which had Rio 2016 Paralympic Champions, Flora Ugwunwa and Lauritta Onye (F40 Shot put) in tow, as well as sprinter Unyime Uwak Ugwunwa who holds the World Record (WR) in the women’s F54 Javelin event.
The contingent won a total of 10 medals – six Gold, and four Silver, and Christian proved a great asset to the team as he claimed three of those Golds.
In 2018, Christian was in very good form winning his events at the Commonwealth Games Trials and was billed to represent Nigeria in Australia in the men’s T46 100m, only to be dropped from the team that travelled to Gold Coast.
“I fell sick for two weeks after seeing them pick the person I defeated during the trials to the Commowealth Games in Australia,” Christian told Brila fm. Continuing, Christian said, “When I asked the chairman why I was dropped for the person I defeated during trials, he said, ‘you are still young and inexperienced. You have not travelled before and the Commonwealth Games is not a small competition for starters. So just go and continue training. He added that there were a lot of other competitions in future.” He said the chairman’s explanation demoralised him. “I felt very bad and left with one resolve: to strive to conquer.” Leaving the coach, he swore not to quit nor stop training because he was determined to achieve his dream of representing Nigeria at international meets where he can prove his worth.
Christian is one para-athlete with a difference. He trains and competes against normal athletes who were had no disabilities.
Owing to his prowess and how well he matched other athletes who are not disadvantaged, it is interesting to note that Christian at some point was the Games Prefect of his secondary school.
Another fun fact to note about him is that he was a goalkeeper during his primary school days, before the accident that led to the amputation of his left arm when he was 10 years.
With the 2019 All-African Games and the Para-Athletics World Championships to come, and the 2020 Paralympic Games in Tokyo as well, Christian is definitely destined for greatness and who knows, he could be the next Para-Athlete to add international laurels to Nigeria’s bulging haul.