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For Ofili, With God All Things Are Possible –Nigerian Teenager Has Exceeded Her School Coach’s Expectation

For Ofili, With God All Things Are Possible –Nigerian Teenager Has Exceeded Her School Coach’s Expectation

When we walk with the Lord in the light of His Word, what a glory He sheds on our way.

This verse from a gospel hymn aptly captures Favour Ofili’s incredible rise from a 23 seconds (23.24s) runner just three years ago in the 200m to a feat hitherto unachieved by a Nigerian woman, a sub 22 seconds performance.

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Not even her two illustrious predecessors, the legendary Mary Onyali (22.07s) and the beautiful Blessing Okagbare (22.04s) were able to break the new ground the 19 year old has broken in the half lap event, indoors and outdoor.

Ofili is not just the first and only Nigerian woman to run inside 23 seconds in the event indoors, she is also the first and so far only one to run a sub- 22 seconds outdoor.

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Not many people thought a 19 year old could achieve these incredible feats so soon.

Not even her school, Louisiana State University head coach, Dennis Shaver thought it was possible for the pretty Nigerian to go under 22 seconds outdoor.

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‘Breaking 22 seconds outdoor is unlikely’, Shavers responded to an email question in February.

Also Read: Ofili, Chukwuma, Ashe Headline Another Impressive Weekend For Nigerian Colleagiate Athletes

Prodded further after the World U20 triple medal winner broke all available Nigerian and colleagiate records, Shavers wrote in another email response dated May 7, 2022 that they ‘focus only on the process and execution not what may be the end result.’

The race plan was explained by Ofili thus after her record setting performance: “Coach {Dennis} Shaver told me before the race to just ‘stay relaxed and execute the race plan’, and that’s what I did.’

The result is that Ofili has not only exceeded her head coach’s expectation but also millions of Nigerians especially when she ran 7.17s in the 60m event.

Nigerians were already looking up to her as the likely successor to the three great quartermilers viz Charity Opara, Fatimah Yusuf and African record holder, Falilat Ogunkoya the country produced in the 1990s.

When she raced to a 51.51s finish in the 400m to qualify for the semifinal of the event at the 2019 World Athletics Championship in Doha, the expectation was that a new queen of the 400m was finally here.

With Ofili venturing into the short sprint, it all looks like a familiar pattern is being recreated.

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The 19 year old seems to be following in Okagbare’s footsteps as she is changing the narrative from being an accomplished quartermiler many have predicted she would grow to become to becoming the fastest pair of legs Nigeria has ever produced in the 200m and the third fastest in the 100m!.

Also Read – Athletics: Sports Minister Impressed With Form Of Ofili, Nathaniel, Others

Okagbare also started out a horizontal jumper, making history as the first Nigerian woman to hit the 14m mark in the triple jump.

The reigning Nigerian 100m record holder moved to the USA on a track scholarship at the University of Texas in El Paso, UTEP, and coach Bob Kittens turned her into a world class sprinter and in addition to retaining her love for the jumps, especially the long jump which fetched her a World Athletics Championship silver medal in 2013.

Will Ofili still retain her love for the 400m event?

Shavers believes the Nigerian will still run in the event (she has participated in the relays) at some point albeit it is looking more likely that can only happen after this year.

‘Yes, she will run 400m at some point, possibly outdoors,’ said Shavers back in February.

What is however certain is that Ofili has carved a name out for herself as a world class sprinter.

The Port Harcourt born teenager believes whatever is happening to her is the will of God in her life.

Asked how she felt racing into history books as the first Nigerian to break 22 seconds in the event and set a new NCAA record, Ofili attributed her incredible run to God.

‘I can’t recall too much of the race because it was such a blur, but I knew I was the first to cross the finish line by a wide margin. When I saw the time I was very happy and excited because it was an expectation that came to pass on God’s word proclaimed in my life. I give all the credit and glory to God,’ she told her school’s official website, lsusports.net.

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Ofili further acknowledged the place of God in her life in her Facebook wall after her incredible performance over the distance.

‘But Jesus beheld them, and said until them, with men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible (Matthew 19:26)’.

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The child of destiny got more blessings from God in the shorter distance when she ran 10.93s in the 100m to become the first Nigerian woman to run inside 23 seconds indoors and 22 seconds outdoors as well break 11 seconds in the 100m at the same time.

Her blistering 10.93s in the 100m is the fifth fastest in her school, LSU history, eighth fastest in collegiate history, No. 5 in African history, No. 3 in Nigerian history, and it ranks as the fourth fastest wind legal time in the world this season.

The Nigerian did not just run that fast but she also beat three Olympic/world medalists whilst doing so in defeating Mikiah Brisco (10.98), Aleia Hobbs (11.11) and Jenna Prandini (11.15).

‘With God all things are possible,’ she wrote on her Facebook wall after breaking 11 seconds in the 100m event.

All eyes will now be on the slender shoulder of the 19 year old at both the NCAA outdoor championship at the Hayward Field in Eugene, Oregon this June before returning again to the same venue for the biggest stage in world athletics, the World Championship where she will hope to translate her collegiate feats to podium appearances.

No Nigerian, man or woman has ever made it to the podium in the blue ribband event at the Worlds but for Ofili, ‘with God all things are possible’.

By Dare Esan

 

 

 

 

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