4) Divine Oduduru
Why is Divine Oduduru in the mix? He inevitably should be in the fray as he single-handedly generated attention for the Nigerian Track and Field athletes with his passionate plea for help.
Just as Oduduru arrived at the Olympics, another video of him resurfaced, where he sounded very confident of squaring up with the legendary Usain Bolt. As fate would have it, the 2014 World Juniors Silver medallist was drawn in the same heat as Bolt in the first round of the men’s 200m.
Many Nigerians who had watched the video of Oduduru, were eager to see how he would fare when he lined up in the same track as Bolt.
Oduduru ran the race of his life, running a lifetime best of 20.34s to finish 2nd behind Bolt who won the race in 20.28s, and afterwards shared an embrace with the young Nigerian.
Running from Lane 8, he defeated more favoured athletes like Ahmed Ali from Sudan and Japan’s Kei Takase, who both had Season’s Bests (SB) of 20.16s and 20.31s respectively coming to Rio.
Not only was Oduduru’s time the fastest by a Nigerian in recent years, he was the only Nigerian male sprinter (100m, 200m or 400m) in Rio to have made it to the semifinals of his event.
Although Oduduru didn’t advance to the final having finished 7th in a stacked heat that included Andre De Grasse who went on to win Silver behind Bolt, the 2015 African Games Silver medallist will take pride in how far he has come, and the possibilities that lie ahead.
There’s no doubt that if Oduduru fulfills his potential, he will go on to become the poster boy of Nigerian Athletics; well he’s one already.