Athletics was officially recognized as a sport in Nigeria in 1944, and since then, the green and white nation has consistently produced exceptional male athletes. The year 2023 was no different, and this group of Nigerian male athletes showed unwavering determination, persistence, consistency, courage, and dedication in their performances.

Their standout achievements serve as a testament to their hard work, underlining the fact Nigerian athletes have what it takes to compete at the highest level. Without further ado, Let’s delve into the Top 12 Nigerian Male Athletes in 2023 (Part 1).


Season Highlights

Big 12 Champion

Bronze medal winner at the NCAA Championships

Nnamdi who is notably known for his Bronze medal at the World U-20 Championships in 2021 and obliterating Pius Bazighe’s long-standing Javelin National Record (NR) in 2022, made a huge impact in 2023 when he became the first Nigerian, male or female, to ever pick up a medal at the NCAA Championships in the Javelin throw despite battling with injuries all season. Nnamdi was always on the podium in every meet he attended, which means he never placed below 3rd place.


Season Highlights

200m/400m Africa U18 Champion

200m/400m/Mixed 4x100m CYG Champion

2023 was indeed a breakthrough season for Ogazi as he displayed some dominance in the 400m. Ogazi first announced himself at the Junior Trials for the African U18 Championships where he clocked a PB of 47.28s. He went on to attempt the 200m/400m double at the African U18 Championships where he emerged victorious. He dominated the 400m, winning in 46.01s, obliterating Lythe Pillay’s former record of 46.26s set in 2019.

A few days later, he completed the double by going sub 21 for the first time in his career to win the 200m in 20.93s. Months later at the Commonwealth Youth Games, he amassed a three GOLD medals in the 200m, 400m, and Mixed 4×100m. His amazing performances in 2023 culminated in a full scholarship at the University of Alabama.


Season Highlight

C-USA 110mH Champion

Eloji’s sophomore year at Middle Tennessee University came with an unlikely change when he decided to add the 110m hurdles into his program which primarily includes the 400m hurdles and 60m hurdles. This move turned out to be a blessing in disguise as Eloji went under 14s (13.97s) on his first attempt with the 110m Hurdles.

He lowered his PB in three successive meets, notably the C-USA where he broke the Championship Record with a time of 13.50s, making him the 4th fastest man over the event in the Nigerian all-time list. The time also doubles as the fastest time posted by a Nigerian since 2016!


Season Highlights

5th place finish at the NCAA Championships (400m)

Silver medal winner at the NCAA Championships (4×400m)

Nwachukwu’s start to 2023 did not look promising at first after running a best of 47.62s indoors and failing to make the NCAA Indoor Championships in the men’s 400m, although he helped his School, Arizona State University finish 4th in the 4×400m relay. The outdoors came and things started clicking for him.

At the Desert Heat Classic in April, Nwachukwu did the unthinkable; he ran a PB of 44.91s, shaving off more than 1.5s from his initial PB which was pegged at 46.13s. That wasn’t the only remarkable feat Nwachukwu achieved. He also became the first Nigerian to go sub-45s in the 400m since Orukpe Erayokan in 2015.

The 23-year-old made it to the NCAA Championships in both the 400m and 4×400m where he clocked a PB of 44.81s in the semis and 44.92s to place fifth in the final. He led off a strong leg for his team to finish 2nd in an School Record (SR) of 2:57.78. Nwachukwu competed at the World Championships in Budapest in the 400m and Mixed 4×400m where he was the first Nigerian since Samson Nathaniel (in 2017) to qualify for the former event.


Season Highlight

Rewrote his 800m National Record

Ibadin was one of those Nigerian athletes who wore the emblem of persistence last season. The 30-year-old chased the World Championships qualification standards for months and didn’t get it until deadline day.

He ran under 1:46s on two separate occasions but the times weren’t good enough. However, on the last day of the qualification window, Ibadin bettered his NR set in 2020 by clocking a 1:44.65s at the DC Track Championships, which didn’t just qualify him for Worlds, but also the Paris 2024 Olympics!


Season Highlights

200m National Champion

SEC 60/200m Champion (Indoors)

SEC 100m/200m Champion (Outdoors)

The Commonwealth Bronze medallist’s consistency over both sprint events in the last three years is worth commending. Akintola is among the few Nigerians who can comfortably run well inside 21s and still challenge the sub-10 barrier by running 10-lows.

Akintola had a brilliant season opener of 6.59s over the 60m. Weeks later, he swept the C-USA titles in the 60m and 200m in 6.63s and 20.59s respectively. Akintola retained his 200m National title with a 20.68s and qualified for his first World Championships after being unable to attend the last edition due to visa issues. He made it to the 200m semis and narrowly missed the 4x100m final after finishing in 9th place overall.

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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