With 24-year-old Uche Eke, Nigeria will present a gymnast at the Tokyo Olympics, a thing that has never happened since 1952 when the country started participating in Olympics.
Eke, who is Nigeria’s first gymnast at the Olympics, is expected to fly the Nigeria colours on Saturday, July 24.
The Nigerian is a master balance. Like in sports, Eke is outstanding intellectually – scooping up a Margaret Mann award for demonstrating exceptional academic ability and professional promise.
He graduated from the University of Michigan School of Information’s Master of Science in Information program with a 4.0 GPA.
By qualifying for Tokyo Olympics, the 24-year-old Olympic medal hopeful said he has reached his ultimate athletic training goal.
“I dream about raising my hand, saluting, getting ready to perform my routines. I dream of walking out on the main stage with the Nigerian colors. Too bad there won’t be any fans there to raise the flag. But it’s ok. It’s all in my heart.
“Both of my dreams came true,” says Uche in an interview with Baltimoresun. “My dream of being an Olympic gymnast is finally right in front of my eyes, and I’m making my parents proud.”
Uche whose father is a Nigerian earlier represented his fatherland in May 2021 at the African Championships in Cairo, Egypt. Then, it was a qualifying event for the Nigerian who has been practicing gymnastics since the age of three.
“What’s driving me is that I want to give back to Nigeria every time I go,” he said, noting that he wants to bring honor to the country where his father was born and where he visits twice a year.
“Combining this degree with my being a Nigerian gymnast, that’s recognition,” Uche boasts, “I could do something hopefully to better the country.
“In gymnastics, it’s not just, ‘Oh, I’m doing a flip and I will land.’ No. I happened to land due to a bunch of practice. A competition is like an exam. If you’ve studied as hard as you could for the exam, then you should be doing well. Same for gymnastics. If you train as hard as you can, then your performance at the competition should reflect your practice.”