Brown Ebewele… His Unfulfilled Dream for Nigerian Junior Athletes | The Guardian Nigeria News

On the final day of competition of the 2021 U20 World Championships in Athletics held in Nairobi, Kenya, Brown Ebewele looked at the medal table displayed on the scoreboard inside the Moi International Stadium and nodded. head several times with a smile.

“Our young athletes have done really well, and I am sure Nigerian athletics will take its rightful place at the senior level very soon.”

Ebewele highlighted the duo of Imaobong Nse Uko, 17, who won gold in the women’s 400m with a new personal best of 51.55 seconds, and US-based speed star Udodi Onwuzurike, which also gave Nigeria a gold in the men’s 200m with a new personal best of 20.21 seconds.

Ahead of Nairobi 2021 (August 18-22), Nigeria’s best place was seventh in the 1990 edition in Plovdiv, Bulgaria, where she won two gold, two silver and two bronze.

To get a better result in Nairobi, the President of the Athletics Federation of Nigeria (AFN), Tonobok Okowa, called on veteran coach Seigha Porbeni and Brown Ebewele to tinker with the squad. It paid off a lot.

The Nigerian team’s trip to Nairobi 2021 was historic, finishing third for the first time in competition history with four golds and three bronze medals, narrowly losing second place to the Finland, which won four gold medals and one silver. The host, Kenya, won eight gold, one silver and seven bronze medals in the competition involving 166 countries.

Ebewele told the Guardian before leaving Moi International Stadium that he would play his part in the process of building young athletes to become world beaters. “The challenge is now on us (the coaches). With the right measures I’m sure some of these junior athletes will win medals for Nigeria at the 2022 Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, England.

Ebewele continued, “Watch our mixed 4x400m relay team set a historic championship record of 3: 19.70 here in Nairobi. I see Nigerian athletes running the world again.

Sadly, Ebewele couldn’t live to keep his promise to help AFN’s new board of directors train young athletes to become world drummers in the senior category. He died on New Years Eve after surgery in Warri, Delta State. He was seriously injured in the leg in a car accident on the Lagos-Benin highway a few years ago.

The news of Ebewele’s death on Friday night came as a big shock to Nigerians, especially those in the athletics family.

Ebewele, a former Olympian and former Edo State Commissioner of Sports, led the Edo team to the 20th National Sports Festival held in Benin City last year.

Popularly referred to as the “Juju Man” by his fans, Ebewele introduced decathlon into national athletics in 1978, while competing as an athlete for Bendel State at the time.

A highly regarded athletic trainer and activist, he became Director of Sports in Edo State and later Sports Commissioner in Edo State under the administration of former Governor Lucky Igbinedion.

As sports director, Ebewele piloted the Edo team to the top of the medal table, when the state hosted the 2002 Sports Festival.

Ebewele was also instrumental in the Nigerian team’s victory at the 2003 COJA Pan-African Games in Abuja, as he championed the inclusion of special sports as medal-winning sports.

Nigeria’s medal harvest at the Games came from special athletes.

Early in his athletic career, Ebewele competed for Lagos State as a junior athlete in the first National Sports Festival in 1973. He was then a junior hammer thrower. He also represented Lagos State at the second edition of the fiesta in 1975. Both editions of the sports festival were held in Lagos but were won by the then Midwestern State.

Ebewele’s first competition for then Bendel State was at the Kaduna ’77 edition of the National Sports Festival. Competing as an adult athlete, Ebewele won a gold medal for Bendel State and also set a national record in the hammer event at Kaduna.

He then represented Nigeria at the 1978 African Games in Algiers and won a silver medal in the decathlon. He has also represented the country in many international competitions.

AFN President Tonobok Okowa and Federation Technical Director Samuel Onikeku called Ebewele’s death a great loss to Nigerian athletics.

Naomi C. Amerson