Nigeria’s second World Championships medal and first-ever medal on the track was the Silver medal won by the great Innocent Egbunike in the men’s 400m at Rome in 1987. His National Record of 44.17s set in 1987, remains Nigeria’s oldest sprint record.

In the run-up to the World Championships, Egbunike was considered one of the clear favourites in the 400m. He had a stellar performance as he broke the African Record of 44.30s set by Gabriel Tiacoh a year before (1986) at the All-African Games with a time of 44.23s, which also doubled as a Games Record. Exactly ten days later at the Weltklasse Zurich meet, he bettered his record to a resounding 44.17, which stood up until 2006 and was a Commonwealth Record until 2012.

At the World Championships, Egbunike finished second in his heat after running a relaxed race. He went on to win his quarterfinals (from the 1:58 mark in the video below) and post the overall fastest time in the semifinals (44.26s), which was a Championship Record (CR) and the third fastest time of his career (from the 2:50 mark).

In the final, Egbunike, who was drafted in Lane 5, ran a very solid race but got overtaken in the last 50m by Thomas Schonlebe of East Germany in a European Record of 44.33s (4:30). Egbunike got his Silver medal with a time of 44.56s, ahead of Butch Reynolds of USA (44.80s).

Today, Innocent Egbunike remains the only African to win an individual 400m World medal (outdoors) and an Olympic medal in the 4×400m relay. He won a Bronze medal at the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles in the men’s 4×400m relay.

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!

Gregory Airende is an enthusiastic Sportswriter and Analyst who has an in-depth knowledge of various sports like Athletics, Football, Basketball, and Gymnastics. His work experience include being a content writer at The Athletic Heat, to a Football Analyst at Sportskeeda and now a Junior Sportswriter at Making of Champions.


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