Foremost track and field coach Chief Tony Osheku was at the weekend honoured with a veteran coach award at the prestigious Athletic Heat Awards held at EbonyLife in Lagos.
Unarguably the most succesfull Nigerian coach in the 1990s, Osheku is also a former Nigeria middle 1500m champion. He lured his then wife Falilat Ogunkoya out of retirement to a string of historic successes on the track.
Osheku coached Ogunkoya to Olympic history in 1996 as the first Nigerian track and field star to win an individual medal at the quadrennial games (after three relay medals in 1984 and 1992) and the first and only one to win two medals at the same edition of the games.
He also coached Ogunkoya to four straight 400m finals in World Athletics flagship event, the World Athletics Championships and to number one position in 1998 as the best quatermiler following her storied run which began at the African Championships in Dakar, Senegal where she became the second Nigerian woman to successfully win the 200/400m titles, to the World Cup in Athletics (now Continental Cup) in Johannesburg, South Africa where she won the 400m title and ran 22.25 seconds to wi silver in the 200m behind Marion Jones of the United States of America.
Osheku also trained both Seun Ogunkoya and Mercy Nku to continental and world stardom. Under his tutelage Seun Ogunkoya won the blue ribband title at the African Championships in 1998 and a then Nigeria 100m record (9.92 seconds). Nku on her part became the second Nigerian sprinter to run in the final of the 100m event (Seville 1999) after the great Mary Onyali.
Osheku has also been helping a lot of Nigerian athletes to gain track scholarships into American Universities with reigning Nigerian 100/200m record holder and a Commonwealth, World and Olympic medalist Blessing Okagbare the pick of them.