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Rio 2016: Chierika Ukogu is Showing the World What “We Can Accomplish”

There are many reasons why we love the Olympics. We love the patriotism and the hysteria as we watch our heroes compete. But, most powerful among these reasons, is the stories that only the Olympics can bring.

This is one of those stories.

At the 2012 London games, Hamadou Djibo Issaka, an unexpected hero emerged. Issaka was a wild card rower from Niger. Just three months before the games, a 35-year-old Issaka picked up the sport of rowing and somehow qualified for the Olympics.

If that’s not amazing, then I don’t know what is.

Needless to say, he finished last in his five-man heat. However, that didn’t stop the crowd from cheering him on and the commentator screaming “you can do it” as he made his way over to the finishing line.

Despite getting the kind of applause usually reserved for medal winners, there were some who preferred to humiliate rather than honor his effort. They dubbed him the “sculling sloth.”

Meanwhile, halfway across the world, Issaka’s story touched a young Chierika Ukogu. Ukogu, an American born Nigerian was infuriated by the negativity directed towards the Niger rower.

According to Alyssa Klein of “Okay Africa”, Ukogu was inspired to action.

“At that time I had been rowing for about six years, and I wanted to continue his legacy and shake things up,” said Ukogu. “I wanted to show people more African rowers and just what we can accomplish.”

This summer, Ukogu made history as Nigeria’s first rower at the Olympics. As if that’s not enough, today, she’ll compete in the semi-finals and show the world just what we are capable of doing.

As Africans, we’ll be rooting for her! Win or lose; Ukogu has not only made her point, but she has already inspired others, just as Issaka inspired her.




Featured Photo: Courtesy of


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