Chioma Ajunwa-Opara, MON (born 25 December 1970) – also known as Chioma Ajunwa – is a Nigerian former athlete who specialised in the long jump.
After various setbacks in her career she achieved fame when she became the first athlete in her country to win an Olympic gold medal at the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta, and to date remains Nigeria's only individual Olympic gold medalist.
Chioma Ajunwa is the first black African woman to win an Olympic gold medal in a field event. Ajunwa is also an officer with the Nigerian Police Force.
25 December 1970 (age 48) Umuihiokwu, Nigeria
Gold medal – first place
Bronze medal – third place
4x100 m relay
*World Indoor Championships
Silver medal – second place
Born into what she describes as "a very poor home", Ahiazu-Mbaise-native Ajunwa was the last of nine children, with six brothers and two sisters. Her father died while she was still young, leaving his wife to solely support a large family. At eighteen Ajunwa, who had been a keen athletics participant during her school years, gained admission into university but was unable to register due to her mother's inability to pay the fees. She later decided to become a motor mechanic, but abandoned the idea following her mother's disapproval.
As a professional sportswoman, Ajunwa originally played football for the Nigerian women's team and was a member of The Falcons during the Women's World Cup in 1991, but as she was constantly benched her skill was seldom used. Of her short-lived football career Ajunwa has stated "I've not regretted the decision [to leave football] because I've made my mark in athletics.
I could have continued with football but there was a particular coach... He knew then that I was the best player in the team but he decided to keep me on the bench throughout every match so I left the team's camp. She played as an attacker.
Track and Field Recognition
Member of the Order of Niger
Following her Olympic gold medal at Atlanta '96, Ajunwa was given a national award – Member of the Order of Niger (MON) – by the then Head of State of Nigeria Sani Abacha, but complained that she was overlooked compared to the Nigerian football team claiming "I was given the MON award, right, but without 'E-Y.' When I heard of what was given to my brothers in the Super Eagles for winning the Nations Cup, I was amazed because you can see the difference...I'm not envious of anybody but this is the time to express my feelings that I deserve more."
Imo State awarded her a chieftaincy title.
Blogger : Ugwuoko Angela Adaobi
Source : Wikipedia