Ezinne Okparaebo is yet another athlete of Nigerian origin who has found fame and fortune running for the colours of her adopted country. As an athlete, Okparaebo’s fame in Norway is surpassed perhaps only by Gambian-born Jaysuma Saidy Ndure who has PBs of 9.99s & 19.89s  in the 100 & 200 metres respectively. Ezinne moved from Nigeria to Norway at the age of 9, and became the fastest Norwegian in history when she won the 100 metres at the Diamond League meet in Olso in 2012 in a time of 11.31s. A couple of months later, she lowered that time even further to 11.10s in the 100m Semi-Finals at the London 2012 Olympics. She is also the Norwegian 200 metre record holder, after running 23.30s twice in 2012!

Okparaebo in the Norwegian papers...
Okparaebo in the Norwegian papers…

Assuming Okparaebo had represented Nigeria, her time of 11.10s would not place her in Nigeria’s All-time Top 5 list in the 100 metres (Okagbare, Ajunwa, Alozie, Onyali, Osayomi) – she will have to run sub-11 to get in the mix – but she’d certainly be up there with Okagbare and Gloria Asumnu in Nigeria’s current relay team. But what sets this “Track Chick” apart from any athlete that has ever represented Nigeria (including Okagbare as Africa’s fastest woman ever) is her complete marketability. The Puma-sponsored Athlete is the poster child for Norwegian Athletics, and her stunning good looks and eye for fashion mean that she would be as comfortable on the cover of Vogue or Sports Illustrated as she is on the track. Even if you’re not Norwegian, you can’t help but get excited about this short rap video, which encapsulates Ezinne’s career so far:

“Okparaebo from Imo to Oslo; fabulous, make fashion flow on the track…” 

Imagine the possibilities if Nigeria could market our own athletes in similar fashion and celebrate their accomplishments at each turn? By now Blessing Okagbare should have a whole movie about her! Okparaebo is a household name and role model for the younger generation in Norway, and in 2012 she spoke about getting used to seeing her image on billboards and buses all over Oslo – at 26, she’s at the mid-point of her Athletics career, so let’s keep tabs on her and hope she can eventually run sub 11 seconds, as the rapper in this video predicts! If that happens, her legend in Norway is bound to rise even further!

Okparaebo competing at her home meet in Oslo, where she won the Diamond League 100m in 2012
Okparaebo competing at her home meet in Oslo, where she won the Diamond League 100m in 2012

Did anyone else notice the Christ lyrics towards the end of the rap? According to Wikipedia,  Okparaebo is a member of the Norwegian Christian Sports Organization KRIK –  Kristen Idrettskontakt (literally meaning ‘Christian Sports Contact’) – which has the goal of combining the Christian faith with the joy of sport. It is no wonder then that she is considered such a role model for the youth in Norway – the youth which includes a certain Chiamaka Okparaebo, her 20-year old younger sister who is an up and coming Triple Jumper in Norway!

Ezinne Okparaebo
Ezinne Okparaebo

Ezinne Okparaebo will compete in the 100 metres at her home meet, the Exxon Mobil Bislett Games (Oslo Diamond League) this Wednesday (Jun 11th) at 7.48pm Nigerian Time 

SuperSport 9 (DSTV 209) will show the whole meet LIVE on June 11th,  from 7 – 9pm Nigerian Time

Okparaebo on the cover of a Norwegian magazine
Okparaebo on the cover of a Norwegian magazine

Okparaebo posing for Puma
Okparaebo posing for Puma

2014 IAAF Diamond League calendar

Doha, QAT – 9 May
Shanghai, CHN – 18 May
Eugene, USA – 31 May
Rome, ITA – 5 Jun
Oslo, NOR – 11 Jun
New York, USA – 14 Jun
Lausanne, SUI – 3 Jul
Paris, FRA – 5 Jul
Glasgow, GBR – 11-12 Jul
Monaco, MON – 18 Jul
Stockholm, SWE – 21 Aug
Birmingham, GBR – 24 Aug
Zurich, SUI – 28 Aug
Brussels, BEL – 5 Sep

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Bambo Akani is the Founder and CEO of Making of Champions (MoC). He is an avid sports writer and photo-blogger, and has quickly become an internationally recognized Athletics Expert. He appeared in a new weekly Athletics segment on the Sports Tonight Show on Channels TV during the 2014 Athletics season and has also appeared on Jamaican Television and Radio to discuss the MoC "The History" Film that he Produced and Directed, and to review and analyse key events in world athletics.Bambo holds an MEng and BA in Chemical Engineering from Cambridge University in the UK and an MBA from Kellogg School of Management in the US.

3 COMMENTS

  1. Hey Bamboa,

    Nice article. I think you have an error in the first paragraph… should be “Ezinne moved from Nigeria to Norway” 🙂

    Keep up the good work,
    Akeem

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