THIS DAY IN HISTORY: FALILAT OGUNKOYA BECOMES NIGERIA’S 1ST INDIVIDUAL FEMALE OLYMPIC MEDALLIST

BY KUNLE SOLAJA

On this date, 29 July 1996, Falilat Ogunkoya became Nigeria’s first individual woman Olympic medallist when she won bronze medal in 400 metres at the Atlanta Olympics in 1996.

In doing so, she also became the first individual track and field individual Olympic medallist from Nigeria.

She came behind Marie-Jose Perec of France and Cathy Freeman of Australia who were gold and silver medals winners respectively.

Falilat Ogunkoya with France’s gold medalist, Marie-Jose Perec (C) and silver medal winner, Australia’s Cathy Freeman.

The 49.10 seconds returned by Falilat was her personal best as well as an African record. It is currently the twelfth fastest of all time.

She later anchored the 4x 400 metres that included Bisi Afolabi, Fatma Yusuf and Charity Opara to win the silver medal behind the American team.

Her pioneering effort in Atlanta seemed to have opened a floodgate of medals as Mary Onyali also picked a bronze medal in the 200 metres and Chioma Ajunwa, a gold medal in the women long jump.

Falilat had also picked medals in a number of national and international championships