6) Chierika Ukogu
Prior to the Olympics, most Nigerians saw Rowing as an alien sport, mainly for Europeans or Americans, not one that could be associated with people of this clime.
However, all that changed when a certain name resonated throughout the Olympics, albeit on the lips of most Nigerians.
Chierika Ukogu etched her name in the sporting history of Nigeria as she became the first person ever to represent Nigeria in the Rowing event at an Olympic Games.
It’s an interesting tale, considering that Ukogu was the one who contacted the Nigerian Rowing Federation by herself. Initially she wasn’t given audience, not until she made the cut for the Olympics.
Even Nigerians didn’t take much notice of her till she made the quarter-finals of the Single Sculls event, and skyrocketed to the No.1 trend on social media network, Twitter as the most discussed topic, a position she occupied for two days.
Ukogu went through the preliminaries and qualified for the semifinal, then she made Final D in her debut appearance at the Olympics. Although it was not Final A which would have put her in contention for a medal, Ukogu finished 2nd in Final D and 20th overall.
Being the first time a Nigerian is competing in Rowing, majority didn’t understand the rules of the sport and needed further clarification to explain that finishing 2nd in Final D was not enough to get Ukogu a medal.
She might not have won a medal, but Ukogu has left a big impression, which will see many anticipate the next Olympics with keen interest. Another fun fact about her is that she put medical school on hold just to represent Nigeria at the Olympics, and now she is back to school.
— Chierika Ukogu (@cukogu) August 17, 2016
Prior to the Olympics, she barely had over a hundred followers on Twitter, but at the moment she has over 4000. Talk about a meteoric rise.
— Chierika Ukogu (@cukogu) February 20, 2016