For the past few days, Chierika Ukogu has been on the lips of Nigerian Sport enthusiasts for her incredible exploits at the 2016 Rio Olympics. Here is a look at 10 things you should know about the Nigerian rower:
1. Chierika Ukogu, fondly called ‘Coco’ was born on October 2, 1992.
2. Ukogu is the first professional rower to represent Nigeria at the Olympics.
3. Coco was born in USA and says she’s proud to be an African-American. She and her siblings were immersed in the culture. “We watch Nollywood movies, we love dancing ‘Alingo,’ we eat the food. All of it,” she said in an interview.
4. Nigeria’s plan was to develop rowers to compete at the 2020 games in Tokyo. But then Ukogu came along four years earlier.
5. Ukogu spent years emailing the Nigerian Rowing and Canoeing Federation without response.
6. When she was eventually considered after years of practice, there was zero financial support from Nigeria’s rowing federation.
7. She started a GoFundMe campaign in 2015 to raise money for costs like travel expenses, entry fees, uniforms and boats
8. The Stanford University graduate put on hold her medical school in order to compete for Nigeria at the Rio Olympics.
9. She trained with the US team before the Rio 2016 Olympics.
10. Chierika Ukogu on Tuesday qualified for the semi-final of the Women’s Single Sculls rowing event at the ongoing Rio 2016 Olympic Games.