At the inaugural edition of the World Athletics Championships staged in Helsinki, Ajayi Agbebaku became the first Nigerian athlete ever and hence African, to win a medal in any event, setting the pace for years of glory for the entire continent!
Having doled out a spate of 17-metre jumps all season, including 17.26m, which at the time was an African Record, it was evident he was going to a be a contender for a podium finish and he held his own nicely against a popular and much more favoured field that included all-time American greats like Willie Banks, Al Joyner and Mike Conley to claim the Bronze.
He kick-started his campaign with 17.01m, a mark that had him in second place in the first two rounds of competition. At the end of the third round, he was joint 4th with Jon Cado of Czechoslovakia and further went down to 5th with just one more round of competition to go.
However, Agbebaku, for a dramatic finish in his final attempt, dug deep, bounding out to a big 17.18m that put him in 3rd place! He recorded the same mark as Willie Banks who finished 2nd while he tipped Mike Conley off medal standings. Poland’s Zdzislaw Hoffmann won with a final round attempt of 17.42m.
As the countdown to the 40th anniversary of the World Athletics Championships, along with the 2023 edition, set to hold in Budapest, Hungary, from August 19th to 27th, begins, we will highlight Nigeria’s medals won at the World Championships, which first started out as a quadrennial event, but became a biennial one after the third edition held in Tokyo in 1991. Nigeria has won a total of 11 medals: two of them in the relays and nine from individual events!