Nigerian-born athlete Ofonime Odiong is already making waves in her first major outing for her adopted country, Bahrain. The former Nigerian 400m Junior Champion is yet to lose a race in her second outing at the IAAF World U20 Championships, racing to a Personal Best (PB) of 23.06s to win Heat 2 in the 200m on Friday in Poland.
Her time put her at the top of the standings ahead of the semis, and she continued her winning streak later that evening, once again clocking the overall fastest time of 23.19s to win Heat 3 ahead of Estelle Raffai of France who was inspired to set a PB of 23.46s, and USA’s Taylor Bennett (23.49s).
Last month the IAAF declared that the 19-year old was eligible to compete for Bahrain after a successful application of transfer of allegiance, and she was cleared just in time to make it to the ongoing Championships in Poland where she looks set to get to the podium in the 200m ahead of Saturday’s final.
However one thing is very evident: Nigeria’s loss has become Bahrain’s gain. Just like the proverbial saying of a prophet not being recognized in their own country, Odiong and a host of other young talent who would have put Nigeria in the limelight, are leaving in their numbers, having found succour in the arms of other countries that are willing and ready to invest in them.
Odiong already started winning medals for Nigeria at a young age, winning the 400m and relays at the inaugural edition of the African Youth Athletics Championships (AYAC) held in Warri in 2013. She was also a vital member of Nigeria’s contingent to the last IAAF World Junior Championships in Oregon, getting to the final in the 400m and 4x400m where she placed 6th and 5th respectively.
Indeed Nigeria has lost another Kemi Adekoya in Odiong. Since making her switch to Bahrain in 2015, Adekoya has gone on to win several medals for the Asian nation, and gifted the country its first ever World Indoor Championships GOLD medal at the 2016 edition of the tournament in Portland. Odiong already looks set to do same, and Poland might just be the starting point for her.