THIS DAY IN HISTORY: FIRST TIME NIGERIA’S FLAG FLIES AT OLYMPICS

BY KUNLE SOLAJA.

On this date, 19 July 1952, the XV Summer Olympic Games opened in Helsinki, Finland.

It was the first Olympic Games in which Nigeria featured as the Nigeria Olympic Committee (NOC) was formed as Nigeria Olympic and British Empire Commonwealth Games Association (NOBECGA) in the previous year.

At the Helsinki Olympics, Nigeria featured nine athletes. They were: Edward Ajado, Titus Erinle, Muslim Arogundade, Rafiu Oluwa, Karim Olowu and Sylvanus Williams.

Others were: Josiah Majekodunmi, Nafiu Osagie and Boniface Guobadia. The best performance by the Nigerian athletes was achieved by Josiah Majekodunmi in the High Jump event.

After scaling the height of 1.87m in the first round, he moved the final and improved on the height he scaled by 0.3 metres after jumping over 1.90metres to placed ninth overall.

Next to him was Guobadia in the same High Jump event. In the first round, he scaled 1.87 like his compatriot. But in the final Guobadia could only jump over 1.80 metres to place 20th.

Incidentally, the anniversary of Nigeria’s maiden appearance at the Olympics coincide with that of the their best outing  – Atlanta ’96.  The Atlanta Games, which was the 26th edition also started on this date, 19 July 1996.

It was at the Atlanta ’96 that Nigeria first won gold medals – Chioma Ajunwa in the Long Jump and the men’s team in the football event.