Making the National team to any global event is considered a thing of pride no doubt, but it is even more enthralling when two siblings are accorded the rare privilege of representing their country on the international stage.
The world of Track and Field has witnessed its fair share of siblings compete at the highest level of the sport, ranging from the Dibaba sisters (Ejegayehu, Tirunesh and Genzebe); the Ezinwas (Davidson and Osmond); the Borlées (Olivia, Jonathan, Kevin and Dylan); Tiffany Porter and Cindy Ofili; reigning 400m Hurdles World Champion Nicholas Bett and twin brother Haron Koech to name a few.
And though Kenya’s Bett and Koech aren’t making it to the World Championships this year, Tirunesh and Genzebe have been named on the Ethiopian team to London. However, they won’t be the only African siblings at the showpiece as Nigeria’s Glory Nathaniel and Samson Nathaniel have been listed to represent the West African nation at the championships.
The pair is only Nigeria’s second set of siblings to represent the country at the IAAF World Championships, following in the footsteps of twin sprint stars Davidson and Osmond Ezinwa whose last outing at the World Championships was in Seville in 1999. The Ezinwas also have a World Championships medal to their name as they were a vital part of the men’s 4x100m relay team that won Silver in Greece two decades ago.
However, Glory and Samson stand in a class of their own as Nigeria’s only male/female siblings to make the team to an international Athletics tournament. Glory will compete in the 400m Hurdles in London while Samson, who is Nigeria’s only male sprinter to qualify for the World Championships, will run in the 400m.
Both athletes will be making their debut to the World Championships, which will serve as their second international outing together. The siblings first represented Nigeria at the 2013 IAAF World Youth Championships in Donetsk where Glory competed in the heats, while Samson got to the semis.
Samson went on to compete at the 2014 World Juniors in Oregon, and then the 2015 African Games in Congo Brazzaville where he got to the semis. Glory on the other hand was at the 2015 African Junior Championships and won a Bronze medal in the 400m Hurdles.
Older sibling Glory first hit the qualifying mark for the World Championships after racing to a Personal Best (PB) of 55.90s to win Silver in her event at the Islamic Solidarity Games held in Baku, Azerbaijan in May.
Two weeks later, Samson became the first (and only) Nigerian male sprinter to surpass the entry standard for the World Championships when he stormed to a PB of 45.23s to win the 400m at the Athletics Federation of Nigeria (AFN)/Dynamic Sporting Solutions meet at the Abuja National Stadium.
He went on to emerge National 400m Champion at the All Nigeria Track and Field Championships in July, further underlining his status as Nigeria’s best quartermiler at the moment. On her part, Glory finished 3rd behind Patience Okon-George and Yinka Ajayi in the women’s 400m final.
Their younger sibling Jeremiah also runs the quartermile, and will be hoping to one day represent Nigeria as well. Having received inspiration from Glory who was the first in the family to begin a professional career in Athletics, Samson said the trio motivate each other:
“We keep telling each other that we can do it, and with the help of God and our coach by our side, we are moving forward. Our parents are proud of us, and when I saw both of our names on the list, the feeling was ‘We made it!’ We are both hoping for the best in London.”
Watch this interview of the Nathaniels at the 2017 All-Nigeria Track and Field Championships in Abuja. We wish them the very best in London.