Amazing Sports Moms!: 3 Nigerian Athletes Who Returned To Track & Field Action After Childbirth
History is replete with stories of female athletes who took time off for procreation and returned to track and field action,some better than before they became mothers. Others just continued where they stopped before procreation.
As recently as the World Championships in Doha, Qatar last year, four amazing moms returned to claim glory.
Jamaica’s Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pyrce won the 100m gold and was a member of the title-winning Jamaican 4x100m relay team just under two years after giving birth to her son in 2017, an action that ensured she failed to deliver her Beijing 2015 title in London.
USA duo of Nia Ali and Allyson Felix also came back to achieve world glory as mothers. Ali upset the applecart to win the 100m hurdles and pushed Nigeria’s Tobi Amusan out of podium placing while Felix won a 4x400m mixed relay gold 10 months after giving birth to her son via cesarean section!.
The story is not limited to those three athletes as there are more before them who have achieved greater success after childbirth.
Also Read – Okagbare: How Track And Field Stopped My Dream To Become An Accountant
In Nigeria, the story is not different. Today Complete Sports’ DARE ESAN brings you the story of three outstanding women who achieved successes after going off for between a year and four for procreation…
L-R: Falilat Ogunkoya, Endurance Ojokolo and Mary Onyali
Ogunkoya quit the track and field scene in late 1989 not for the purpose of procreation. She was just fed up with developments at the time. She would however give birth to her son, Junior three years later and made a return to the track the following year.
Prior to her quitting, her greatest glory was winning a 200m World Junior title in 1986, an African Championships 400m gold in 1988 and 1989 and a bronze medal for Africa at the World Cup in Athletics in Barcelona.
Ogunkoya however returned in 1994/1995 to achieve greater success. She started by making the final of the 400m event at the World Championships in 1995,a feat she would repeat three more times consecutively.
She made history as the first Nigerian to win an individual medal in track and field at the Olympics following her 400m bronze win in 1996 in Atlanta, USA. She would also go on to anchor the 4x400m relay to gold and a new African record,a feat that made her the only Nigerian to win two medals at the same Olympics.
In 1998 she became the second Nigerian nay African woman to successfully complete a 200/400m double at the African Championships before going on to win gold at the World Cup in Athletics and the Grand Prix final. She was eventually crowned the best 400m runner in the world that year!.
‘The Bulldozer’ as Endurance was fondly called when she stormed into reckoning in 1997 to win her first of seven national 100m titles briefly left the scene in 2000 to give birth to her daughter, Immanuela.
She returned the following year to reclaim a title she had won three consecutive times from Mary Onyali. She would go on to achieve another back to back wins from 2003 to 2005.She ran her lifetime best of 11.06 seconds the year she made her comeback and won two African Championship 100m titles in 2002 and 2004. She won a silver medal in the 100m at the African Games in 2003 in Abuja and was a 4x100m finalist the following year at the Olympics in Athens, Greece.
Nkem achieved most of her major accomplishments including winning a 200m bronze at the Olympics (1996) and grabbing four of the five medals she has won at the World Cup in Athletics before giving birth to Tia,her daughter in 1997.She however returned in 1998 to win her third African championships 100m gold, nine years after she last won the event. She completed a 100m/200m double at the 2003 African Games in Abuja for the second time in the history of the Games and sicne she first achieved the feat in Harare, Zimbabwe in 1995.
In 2000 Onyali ran 10.99 seconds, her second career sub 11 seconds in the 100m seven years after she became the first Nigerian nay African woman to run a sub 11 seconds in the event.
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