Esther Toko became the first Nigerian athlete to compete at the ongoing Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, taking to the water at the Sea Forest Waterway early on Friday morning in the women’s Singles Sculls of the Rowing event.

Making her Olympics debut, Toko finished 5th in heat 1 of her event, clocking a time of 8:58.49 as she settled for a place in the Repechage, finishing outside the top three positions that would have granted automatic qualifications.

The top three finishers in each heat will automatically make the quarterfinal, while the remaining crew will go into the Repechage for another crack at making the latter stages of the competition.

Toko is the second Nigerian athlete ever to compete in the Rowing event. She follows in the steps of Chierika Ukogu who more or less introduced most Nigerian fans to the sport, after making history at the Rio 2016 Olympics where she became the first Nigerian to compete in Rowing.

Staying in 5th for most part of the competition, Toko struggled a bit staying with the leaders, trailing by as much as +31.71 after the 1,000m mark. Then by the 1,500m mark, it had increased to +48.92 and then a sum total of +1:08.78 after the race.

This is a good learning curve for the young Nigerian Rower, but it’s not over for her yet in Tokyo as she will return early on Saturday for the Repechage, hoping she can still progress to the latter stages.


Many thanks to Paga for being the official sponsor of Making of Champions coverage of the Tokyo Olympics.

Athletics coverage was a discovery, having to move away from regularly writing about Football. Although it was initially daunting, but now being an authority in it makes the past effort worthwhile. From travelling on the same international flight with Nigerian athletes, to knowing you could easily interview: World Record holder Tobi Amusan, then Ese Brume, I have cut my teeth in this beat earning the trust of Athletics sources. Formerly the Content Manager-Sports at Ringier media Nigeria, Chris is a Senior Sports writer, Photographer & Community manager at Making of Champions.


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