Egbunike inspired me to win gold – Okezie

Thirty-seven years ago, Innocent Egbunike made big headline across the globe when he clocked a Games Record of 44.23secs to win the 400m title at the All African Games. Since then, Nigeria has only won four silver medals in the event from the trio of the late Sunday Bada (1991 and 1995), Clement Chukwu (1999), and Tobi Ogunmola (2011).

But the story changed during the week in Accra, Ghana, when Chidi Okezie stormed to a 45.06sec Personal Best to win his first African Games gold after being pushed to third place in two African Championships and the 2019 African Games.

Okezie disclosed that he drew his inspiration from the 1987 African Games champion and national record holder, Innocent Egbunike.

“Now, I want to go back home and improve on the 45.06sec with Egbunike’s 44.17seconds run as a benchmark,” Okezie told “Innocent is one of my role models. I have talked to him about running 44.17sec as soon as I can. But he tells me to keep winning my races and not to worry about the time. It would come when it would come. He messaged me on the night/morning of the race and what he told me stuck with me throughout the day,” Okezie stated.

During the 400m run, Okezie was the dark horse as all attention was on defending champion, Muzala Samukonga of Zambia and Tidiane Diouf of Senegal, who had done better times in the semi-final heats.

And they were leading all the way till the last curve, when Okezie changed gears and put his nose in front. He powered home to a season and personal best.

“I got tired of winning bronze and I told myself this time I got to make a difference,” he said.

Okezie added that his focus now is to qualify for the Olympics after missing the mark with fractions of seconds.

“I need to run 45.00sec to qualify for the Olympics. I have always wanted to run and I have to go back to the drawing board to do more work and by God’s grace, we can do great things in the coming months.”

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