We asked Deji Ogeynbgbo to give us a preview of how Nigeria views the World Indoor Championships and his homeland’s prospects in Belgrade, Serbia. Deji will be providing updates each day on Belgrade, and Nigeria’s performances, but also his favorite global performances of the weekend!
Ese Brume, photo by World Athletics
History beckons for Ese Brume as she leads Nigeria’s charge to the World Indoor Championships in Belgrade
The smile, beam, and gracefulness. Very few athletes in Track and Field encapsulate these traits like Nigeria’s Ese Brume. She’s the jewel in the crown of Nigerian Athletics at the moment, as everything she touches turns to Gold.
When Nigeria went two World Championships and Olympic cycles without winning a medal in athletics, it was the ever-smiling Brume who bailed the country out with her astonishing performances in the Women’s Long Jump when she cliched Bronze in Doha 2019 and the Tokyo Olympics. Yes, she’s that special. However, Brume doesn’t have an Indoor medal in the sport to boast. That might yet change this weekend in Belgrade.
Surprisingly, despite Nigeria being one of the most illustrious nations in Africa when it comes to Athletics just has notched up 11 medals at the Indoor Championships since its inception in Paris 85′. Sunday Bada (3), Paul Emordi (1), Francis Obikwelu (1), Olusoji Fasuba (1), Davidson Ezinma (1), Chidi Imoh (1), Chioma Ajunwa (1), Glory Alozie (1), and Falilat Ogunkoya are the athletes to have medals for the country at the Championships.
Brume is not one to shy away from a challenge. The 26-year-old has won medals for Nigeria at every major championship. Gold from the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, three African Championships titles, an African games title to add to her World and Olympic medals put her in uncharted territory when it comes to the Long Jum on the African continent.
The great Ajunwa, who blazed the trail with her astonishing performance in the Long Jump in the nineties, is having to see most of her records fall and achievements surpassed by the impeccable Brume.
2021 was a defining season for Brume, one which saw her take down Ajunwa’s 25-year-Old African record in the Long Jump, reaching 7.17m. Years of training and a lifetime of dreaming and she eventually would be called the African Record holder. Determination, grit, tenacity. These are the fabrics Brume is woven from.
Although Ajunwa still remains the Nigerian record holder over the women’s long jump indoors after her 6.97m exploits in Germany in 1997, the same year she clinched Bronze over the same discipline for Nigeria at the Indoor Championships in Paris, France, however, Brume would be looking to break that record, while also picking up a medal in Belgrade.
So, history beckons for Brume. One that can take her above Ajunwa when it comes to the Long Jump in Nigeria considering she achieves her target. The Delta-State-born athlete has an Indoor Personal Best (PB) of 6.82m, set in Liévin in Feb. 2020, while she’s jumped over 7-meters twice in her career outdoor.
It’s not going to be a cakewalk for Brume in the Southeast European Country this weekend. Some of her usual nemeses will be gunning for Gold, too. For one, the defending champion and home favorite, Ivana Spanovic Voleta is the top entry in the women’s Long Jump with a lifetime best of 7.24m and a Season’s Best of 6.88m. Great Britain’s Lorraine Ugen is also on the entry list having reached a National Record and PB of 6.93 indoors at the Championships in Portland in 2016.
One lady who has a knack for throwing the cats amongst the pigeons is Ukraine’s Maryna Bekh-Romanchuk. Despite the war ongoing in her country, she will still lace her spikes to compete. The 2021 European Gold medalist pipped Brume to win Silver at the World Championships in Doha in 2019.
It certainly isn’t going to be smooth sailing for Brume. In fact, she needs that one big jump if she’s to get on the podium, a scenario you can’t completely write off. The last Nigerian to climb the podium of Nigeria at the World Indoor Championships was when Olusoji Fasuba won Gold in the men’s 60m in Valencia in 2008.
Joining her in the women’s long jump at Belgrade 2022 is Ruth Usoro, who will be making the quick turnaround from competing at last week’s NCAA DI Indoor Championships in the USA to traveling for the world indoors in Europe. Usoro has an Indoor best of 6.82m.
Also, Nigeria will also be featuring a men’s 4x400m team, comprising the quartet of Samson Nathaniel, Emmanuel Ojeli, Timothy Emeoghene, and Sikiru Adeyemi will be leading Nigeria’s charge over the distance as they would hope to get to the final of the event on Sunday.