My Rio Olympics ticket, a gift from God, says Brume
• I’m so excited — Solomon Ogba
After leaping to a season-best 6.83m during the Golden League in Akure on Monday, which automatically qualified her for the Rio Olympics Games, Ese Brume put a call across to The Guardian screaming: “My God has done it for me again. I am so excited right now for this precious gift.”
On May 4, some athletics followers expressed worry over Brume’s chances of making it to Rio when she made a surprise appearance in the 400m race during the All Comers Championship at the Yaba College of Technology, Lagos.
A long jumper beginning her athletics season with 400m in an Olympics year? That was the question on some top AFN officials’ lips soon after the race in Lagos. But the athlete knew exactly what she wanted.
Brume was one of Nigeria’s celebrated stars in 2014, as she won a long jump gold at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow before beating all contenders to grab the top spot at the African Senior Athletics Championships in Morocco.
Earlier in the year, the AFN set a 6.70m standard for female long jumpers to meet as qualification mark for the Rio Olympics.
Brume, who could not win a medal at the last African Games in Brazzaville Congo due to injury, had pursued the standard set by the AFN in the three previous Golden Leagues. After opening her season with the 400m race in Lagos in May, Brume returned to the long jump during the Golden League in Abuja, where she jumped 6.54m.
When the Golden League took place in Sapele, Delta State late last month, Brume skipped the long jump for the 100m race. She returned to the long jump two weeks ago in Sagamu, Ogun State, where she improved to a leap of 6.60m.
The Akure Golden League on Monday saw Brume hitting 6.83m jump to smash her previous personal record of 6.68m, which she set in 2014.
AFN President, Chief Solomon Ogba, described Brume’s performance as encouraging. “It is really exciting to see Brume jump 6.83m,” Ogba told The Guardian. “She has been consistent this season and I am not surprised she surpassed our qualification mark of 6.70m. We have done our part and the athletes have equally done their parts. Our prayer is for these athletes to get good preparation for the Rio Olympics,” Ogba said.
With the Rio Olympics qualification already secured, Brume says she would not relent. “It calls for more challenges and I pray God to see me through,” she said.
“The Olympics Games is the biggest of all sporting events. Now that I have booked my ticket to Rio, I have to work very hard so that I can wrestle with the best athletes when hostilities begin in Rio. It is possible because that has been my dream since I started competing with senior athletes. By the grace of God, I won’t disappoint Nigerians,” Brume stated.
Perhaps, the biggest challenge for Brume before the Rio Olympics is how to defend the long jump title she won two years ago during the African Senior Athletics Championship in Morocco.
The 2016 edition of the championship will run from June 22 to 27 in Durban, South Africa and Brume is hopeful she would make Team Nigeria proud once again. But there are bad signals from Abuja, as the sports ministry is said to be ‘foot-dragging’ in releasing money to the AFN to attend the competition.
The AFN will use the Akure Golden League to name athletes, who will fly Nigeria’s flag at the African senior meet in Durban, South Africa.
Also on Monday, Divine Oduduru won the men’s 100 and 200m events, clocking 10.29secs and 20.53secs in the two events. Patience George won the women’s 400m in 51.06secs while Yinka Ajayi and Omolara Omotosho finished second and third in 52.27secs and 52.61secs respectively.
Orukpe Erayokan, who just recovered from injury, won the men’s 400m in 46.22secs, just as Isah Salihu finished second in 46.52secs and Henry Okorie was third in 47.12secs.