How time flies when you’re making an impact! For Making of Champions Limited, it’s been seven challenging yet exciting and rewarding years of existence in the Nigerian Sports Industry, even as the company has since made giant strides by setting the pace in various aspects of Sport Media and Management, both domestically and internationally!

Making of Champions has come a long way in seven years and has transformed the Athletics landscape in Nigeria.

It all began in late 2012 when MoC Founder/CEO Bambo Akani began shooting the feature-length documentary, Making of Champions: “The History” after seeing a country as populous as Nigeria, blessed with so many people of natural athletic ability, return from the London 2012 Olympics with a sum total of ZERO medals – the first time Nigeria had failed to medal at the Olympics since Seoul ’88. Making of Champions: “The History”, is a 75-minute film capturing Nigeria’s full Olympic medal history in Athletics (Track & Field) and lays the foundation for how Nigeria can return to reckoning on the world stage.

In 2014, MoC commenced media coverage of Track and Field events, both on the domestic scene and internationally, kicking off with the National Championships in Calabar, African Championships in Marrakech and Commonwealth Games in Glasgow. We have since travelled across several states in Nigeria and countries around the world, covering three World Championships in the process, the last two editions of the African Games (2015 & 2019), 2016 World U20 Championships in Poland and several other competitions.

MoC’s media team have extensively covered several Athletics events across the country, continent and globe.

In 2015, the company launched Nigeria’s first Athletics Reality TV Show, Top Sprinter, teaming up with Olympic Medallist Judges Deji Aliu, Uchenna Emedolu, Glory Alozie and Francis Obikwelu to find Nigeria’s next generation of Olympians. The quest took them to Lagos, Ibadan, Enugu and Benin, and several stars like Joy Udo-Gabriel, Jerry Jakpa, Emmanuel Ojeli were unearthed at the auditions.

Making of Champions teamed up with Olympic Medallists Uchenna Emedolu, Glory Alozie, Francis Obikwelu and Deji Aliu in the search for the next generation of Olympians.

This culminated in the establishment of MoC Track Club with six athletes in 2016, with the club now boasting of about 25 athletes who are being trained by Olympic Medallists Aliu and Alozie amongst others. MoC Track Club has won over 52 Medals (34 National & 18 International) in just three years of operation. Five or six of these athletes are on track to make their first-ever Olympic Games in 2021!

Joy Udo-Gabriel (2nd Left) won MoC’s first international medal while competing at the 2018 Commonwealth Games where she teamed up with Blessing Okagbare, Tobi Amusan and Rosemary Chukwuma to win Bronze for Nigeria in the women’s 4x100m. Photo Credit: Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images AsiaPac

In 2016, MoC launched a Student-Athlete Scholarship, the first of its kind in Nigeria, to take care of the training and University education of the best teenage athletes in Nigeria. The initiative kicked off with Udo-Gabriel and Jakpa who were awarded scholarships by Oil and Gas company, ARCO Group. This support covers the athletes’ tuition, accommodation, nutrition, healthcare, training and competition costs.

MoC Athletes receive the best of Healthcare, Physiotherapy and Vitamins/Supplements to keep them refreshed whilst pursuing their Athletics careers!

About 10 athletes from the club have since benefitted from this initiative as companies like SNEPCo, Niger Delta Exploration and Production (NDEP), Midwestern have also supported MoC’s efforts. Eight MoC athletes are currently at University of Lagos, while competing locally and globally as they develop into World- Class Athletes.

Emmanuel Ojeli and Favour Ekpekpe are two beneficiaries of MoC’s Student-Athlete Scholarship which is the first of its kind in Nigeria. Both athletes are being sponsored by SNEPCo.

In 2017, MoC once again extended its frontiers by sponsoring the National U18 and U20 Championships, partnering with the Athletics Federation of Nigeria (AFN) to successfully host the competition in Abuja in June. The event was staged to select the Nigerian contingent to the African U20 Championships in Algiers and World U18 Championships in Nairobi, although Nigeria didn’t eventually send teams to both events!

In 2018, the company went a step further by unveiling the MoC Grand Prix which has since become a regular fixture in the AFN calendar and an event the homebased athletes usually look forward to as they are guaranteed prize monies for their efforts. Over N1.2 million was awarded in prize money at the inaugural edition while over N700,000 was raised by Athletics lovers for the 2nd edition of the competition in 2019!

The MoC Grand Prix has become a regular feature on the AFN calendar.

In 2019, MoC exposed some of its top athletes to the professional side of things, flying them to Botswana and South Africa to compete for laurels for the club. Emmanuel Ojeli, Joy Udo-Gabriel and Jerry Jakpa each finished Top 3 in their respective races in Botswana. Later that year, Udo-Gabriel and Jakpa were flown to Europe – Italy to be precise – where they won all their races. Jakpa would later travel to Switzerland where he twice equalled his Personal Best of 20.59s, before ending his season.

MoC Athletes Jerry Jakpa, Emmanuel Ojeli and Joy Udo-Gabriel represented the club at various meetings abroad in 2019.

Impressed by the giant strides made by the company, Nigeria’s Minister of Youth and Sports Mr. Sunday Dare paid a visit to MoC Track Club to commend Akani’s efforts as well as that of the coaches, whilst also citing the MoC model as one that should be replicated across the country.

Nigeria’s Minister of Youth and Sports Mr. Sunday Dare visited MoC Track Club in 2019 to commend its efforts towards developing Sports in the country.

It’s been an adventurous journey no doubt, but we’re just getting started. Cheers to seven more years of growth and progress!

MoC is looking forward to raising many more champions in the nearest future.

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Yemi Olus is a Senior Sports Writer and Editor at Making of Champions. She has a bias for Athletics and was previously a Sports Reporter at the National Mirror, where she hosted a weekly column ‘On the Track with Yemi Olus’ for over two years. A self-acclaimed ‘athletics junkie’, she has covered national and international events live, such as the African Athletics Championships, African Games and IAAF World Championships. She has also freelanced for the Athletics Federation of Nigeria (AFN) and currently hosts a weekly Track and Field column in the Vanguard Newspaper.

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