On this day in history, the Nigerian women’s 4x400m quartet of Olabisi Afolabi, Fatima Yusuf, Charity Opara and Falilat Ogunkoya combined brilliantly well for a National Record (NR) and African Record (AR) of 3:21.04 to win a Silver medal in the event at the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta.

It was a nail-biting performance as Afolabi on lead-off, executed her leg brilliantly so that Nigeria had the lead at the first exchange. She handed the baton to individual finalist, Fatima Yusuf who extended the lead further, handing over to Charity Opara who then maintained the lead but tied up in the last 100m. USA’s Kim Graham gained ground on her and eventually, the lead, passing to Jearl Miles while Nigeria’s Falilat Ogunkoya, the individual 400m Bronze medallist got the baton in 2nd on anchor.

Ogunkoya wasn’t going to let go easily as she chased after Miles, the lead shrinking down to about a metre. They held on at that as the US claimed GOLD in 3:20.91 and Nigeria got Silver, as Germany with a sprint finish from Grit Breuer took the Bronze medal.

Their time still stands as the African Record, 24 years after their achievement and infact, remains the only medal by an African nation in the women’s event.

Athletics is a special shade of life for me, and my confidence has received a boost since I started out covering the sport from the stands of my home, and now as a Junior Sportswriter with Making of Champions - an opportunity to get better at what I do.


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