BY Mark Babatunde, 8:00am August 11, 2016,

More Applause as Nigeria’s Chierika Ukogu Reaches Olympic Rowing Semi-Finals

Cheirika Ukogu made history in the Rio as Nigeria's first ever rower at the Olympics. Nairaland

Team Nigeria’s Chierika Ukogu has earned a place in the semi-finals Women’s Single Sculls Rowing event at theRio 2016 Olympic Games.

Ukogu is now well-placed to win Nigeria’s first medal at the Rio Olympics in a sport that does not exactly enjoy a widespread following among Nigerians.

Ukogu’s advancement to the semi-finals comes after her performance in the quarter-final (third heat) of the women’s single scull event: Ukogu posted a time of 7:54.44, to finish fifth coming behind Bermuda’s Michelle Pearson who came in fourth at 7:34.90, Canada’s Carling Zeeman who snapped up a 3rd place finish at 7:34.52, Zimbabwe’s Micheen Thornycroft who had a close second coming in at 7:34.38, and Denmark’s Fie Udby Erichsen who came in first with a time of 7:33.22.

Ukogu finished the 500 meter segment of her race in 1:52.57 and clocked an impressive 3:51.77 in the 1,000 meter segment before finishing at 5:52.26 in the 1,500 meter segment. Her total time was 7:54.44.

According to Olympic rules, only the top three in each Heat automatically qualify for the semifinals A/B, but Ukogu’s time, which was ranked 18 overall in the quarterfinals, was enough to gain her a spot in semifinals C/D 1.

Ukogu has made history as the first Nigerian ever to represent the country in the rowing event at the Olympics.

Ukogu, 24, was born in the United States and a graduate of Stanford University, with plans on becoming a doctor. However, her love for rowing and passion for her country Nigeria made her suspend her studies.

Still, Ukogu’s journey to Rio hasn’t been the smoothest. With rowing not being a popular sporting activity in Nigeria, she has had trouble finding support and sponsorship from the Nigerian authorities in charge of sports.

Therefore, Ukogu’s participation in the Olympics has come against all odds, with funding for her training and participation at the Games mostly coming from contributions from a GoFundMe page she created.

She has also had to train alongside members of the U.S. rowing team.

Last Edited by:Deidre Gantt Updated: June 19, 2018


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