Ese Brume: A crusade driven by destiny, propelled by ambition
Team Nigeria was on the verge of missing out on the medals table once again before Brume rescued a ‘golden bronze’ on Sunday evening with a jump of 6.91m, her second-longest career jump to win the bronze medal behind pre-championship favourite, Germany’s Malaika Mihambo (7.30m) and USA’s Kenyatta Hackworth (6.92m).
Brume became the first Nigerian athlete since 2013 to win a medal at the World Athletics Championship. She also equalled history as the second Nigerian woman to make the podium in the event after Blessing Okagbare leaped a distance of 6.99m to win a silver medal behind the USA’s Brittney Reese (7.01m). Brume is also the third Nigerian after Okagbare and Chioma Ajunwa to make the final of the long jump event.
At the end of the 2018 athletics season, Brume revealed to The Guardian that she would be ‘better’ equipped in 2019 to deal with the challenges on the track, particularly the World Athletics Championships in Doha.
Brume captured a gold medal for Team Nigeria at Asaba 2018 African Senior Athletics Championship, before leading her state, Team Delta, to top the medals table at the 19th National Sports Festival in Abuja. She leaped 6.62m to claim gold and also erased the former record of 6:39m held by Chinedu Udozor.
Brume is on a scholarship programme with Eastern Mediterranean University, Famagusta in North Cyprus, studying Tourism and Hospitality management.
Before she returned to her base in North Cyprus, Brume took the time to explain in a chat with The Guardian that she would build on the successes she recorded on the track in 2018, especially at the World Athletics Championships in Doha.
“By the Grace of God, I will capture a medal for Team Nigeria in Doha. That is my target,” Brume stated. She did it on Sunday.
As of 2014, Brume was relatively unknown in the African track and field circle. But she took the entire Commonwealth nations by surprise when she beat all senior competitors in the race for the gold medal in the long jump event. That was in Glasgow, Scotland.
A few days later, Brume made Team Nigeria’s contingent to the African Senior Athletics Championships in Marrakech, Morocco, where she also won a gold medal for Team Nigeria.
But bad leadership in the Athletics Federation of Nigeria (AFN), and unnecessary envy by some Nigerian coaches soon threatened to halt her flight.
While Brume was able to defend her African championship title two years later at Durban, South Africa 2016, the AFN denied her the opportunity of defending her Commonwealth Games’ title in Gold Coast, Australia, in 2018.
As expected, Brume’s morale dropped following the psychological impact of not defending her long jump title in Gold Coast. “But I won’t allow anybody to frustrate my career,” she told The Guardian then.
At Asaba 2018 African Senior Athletics Championship, Brume rose to the occasion by winning a gold medal, her third in the African Championships, with a leap of 6.83 meters to equal her season’s best recorded earlier in Jamaica.
Again, after Asaba 2018 Championship, Brume and other foreign-based athletes, including Divine Oduduru and Tobi Amusan, cried out over non-payment of allowances by the AFN. But the determination to take her career to greater height propelled Brume on. She was shuttling between North Cyprus, Nigeria and other parts of the world attending various competitions to equip herself for the Doha 2019 Athletics Championships.
“I set a target for myself at the beginning of the 2018 season,” she said then. “Now, I have to think ahead because Doha 2019 World Athletics Championship is a bigger event.”
After rescuing a ‘golden bronze’ for Team Nigeria in Doha on Sunday evening, Brume said in a message to The Guardian. “I thank God and all those who contributed to this success. I am grateful to my coach Kayode Yahaya for his support. Though my target was the gold medal, I cherish the bronze. I am returning home now to begin preparation for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. I will need the support of Nigerians, including the government, sports-loving individuals and corporate bodies to get a better result. This is the time to work for the medal instead of the usual fire brigade approach. As I said, I will need the support of all Nigerians to achieve my dream in Tokyo,” Brume stated.
At the Rio 2016 Olympic Games in Brazil, Brume was the only Nigerian athlete who made it to the finals in an individual event after all the ‘big names’ fumbled. She smashed her personal best of 6.68m with a jump of 6.81m on the final day to finish fifth overall. She was 20 years old then and was the youngest among the women jumpers at the Rio Olympics.
With two African senior titles between Rio 2016 and now, including a gold medal at the 2019 African Games in Morocco, Brume feels she is mature now for the big task in Tokyo.
With the assurance from Sports Minister, Sunday Dare, that Nigerian athletes would be given the support they will need to excel in international competitions, stakeholders are hoping that the likes of Brume, Amusan, and Oduduru will also be protected from the ‘evil hands’ in the AFN on the road to Tokyo 2020 Olympics.
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