Charlton Ehizuelen: I would have been Nigeria’s first Olympic champion in 1976!

Former Nigeria and African record holder in the long jump, Charlton Ehizuelen says his form going to the 1976 Montreal Olympics would have given him either the gold or silver medal if Nigeria did not boycott the Games.

The two-time NCAA champion is the first Nigerian to legally hit the 8.20m mark and the first to also hit the 8.30m mark (8.33m) albeit it was wind aided.

The battle for the 1976 Olympics gold medal would have been between Ehizuelen and American, Arnie Robinson.

Both were the cynosure of all eyes prior to the Games and the two would have made it to the podium.

The Nigerian did not get to compete while the American lived up to pre-games hype as he jumped 8.35m to win the gold with another American, Randy Williams second (8.11m) and Frenchman, Jacques Rousseau winning the bronze (8.00m).

Ehizuelen told that Nigeria’s final minute withdrawal from the Games denied him the chance to make history.

‘The 1976 Olympic Games was going to give me an Olympic gold or at least a silver medallist. It would have been the first for Nigeria in track and field,’ said Ehizuelen who is arguably the greatest long jumper Nigeria has ever produced.

Nigeria waited 20 years to finally get an individual Olympic gold and it was in the long jump.

‘I believe God intended for the long jump to produce Nigeria’s first medal in track and field. I missed the opportunity in 1976, it took 20 years for a female long jumper, Chioma Ajunwa to achieve it in Atlanta at the 1996 Olympic Games. She won Nigeria’s first Olympic gold medal in the long jump,’ said a proud Ehizuelen.

The event has also produced a silver medalist (Blessing Okagbare) and a bronze medalist (Ese Brume).

Ehizuelen remains one of the greatest athletes Nigeria and University of Illinois have ever produced and he was recently inducted into the University’s hall fame while waiting for Nigeria to honour him for his athletics prowess.

‘Illinois induction was a big deal. I also got inducted into the Drake Relays Hall of Fame and the Kansas,’ he wrote in a chat.


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