Otonye Iworima former Nigerian triple jumper. In 2006, she finished second at the Commonwealth Games and third at the African Championships.
For these achievements, the Athletics Federation of Nigeria chose her as the Nigerian Female Athlete of the Year. In 2007, she won another bronze medal, at the All-Africa Games amongst many other medals.
Inter-house sports was her favorite extra-curricular activity in primary and secondary school, she participated in long jump and high jump as she thought triple jump was just for boys.
After secondary school due to her interest and love for sports, she joined the Rivers state sports council that was when she was introduced to triple jump and she fell in love because it was difficult and they were fewer athletes.
Her parents insisted that education must come first before sports, so she had to set her priorities, went to school, graduated with a second class upper grade, participated in the compulsory national service scheme (NYSC) before she focused on sports, at that point her father supported her fully.
She says “its all about priority, if you have that chance to go to school, do your education because you will always need something to fall back on because you won’t be able to do the sports forever.”
Her biggest motivation to excel in triple jump was down to two options ” it was either I excelled at sports or I secure a job, I made up my mind I was going to do triple jump and win. Then i surrounded myself with positive people and an excellent coach (coach shade).”
Before she got her first tournament, Iworima was discouraged and almost went in search of a job, giving up on her dreams, but thanks to positive people around her, she held on and a year later she was picked for the Common wealth games. “you have to make up your mind in anything you’re doing, come rain or shine because there is always going to be ups and downs”
On her first international outing and first medal in the 2006 commonwealth games, Australia, Iworima said “that year was a fun year, the triple jump record had stayed for 10-years, three of us were doing triple jump, we took turns breaking the record tournaments after tournament, they selected all three of us for the games which was the first time that would happen… they were a lot of issues, injuries, sicknesses at the commonwealth games…
Iworima was nervous and sick just before she competed in Australia but there was no stopping her and afterwards she couldn’t comprehend the result “I was nervous, I couldn’t eat and affected my weight, the morning before my competition I had a bad stomach upset, from the medical I went straight to the tracks to compete which was very challenging, a lot of people were not expecting me to pick a medal, but I got a silver medal”
At her first track and field she faced criticism from fans “they said I wasn’t running well and I should quit and go into modeling”
Former Nigerian triple jump champion says sports can be addictive and some challenges are good, one of her treasured moments in her career came from a challenge, while participating in a competition Lagos in preparation for the All Africa games in Mauritius, her coach was not scheduled to go with her but she wanted the coach to come along, so she was challenged by the technical director to jump 14metres if she wanted her coach to make the trip. she did everything to get that jump, and she got it at the 5th attempt though it was not recorded as a legal jump so it wasn’t a national record but was the longest for Nigeria back then.
Another challenge was practicing her trade here rather than traveling abroad where it was easier “I made up my mind to stay in Nigeria and prove to people that I can achieve being a champion here, which I did”
On age falsification “she believes it’s a mentality and she understands why people falsify their age but encourages people to be confident in themselves, I didn’t falsify damning the consequences because I just believed in living your truth.”
As an administrator, she currently advocates for more women in sports, and encourages women to participate in sports and agrees that everything starts and ends with the mind “its a mind thing before its a physical thing, if you don’t make up your mind then people come at you, when the wind comes it carries you if you’re not rooted”
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