ATHLETICS: Kelechi Christian Set To Represent Nigeria After Zimbabwe Dominance (AUDIO)

It isn’t often that a 20-year-old athlete gets to compete for two different countries in the space of two years but Making of Champion’s 2017 100m Junior Champion Kelechi Mgbemena Christian might just manage that feat if her bid to make the Nigerian team to the 2019 African and World Athletics Championships are realised.

The Abia state born 100m and 200m specialist moved to Zimbabwe with her parents in 2009 and her prowess on the tracks as a secondary school athlete led to her being selected to represent the Southern Africa nation at the 2017 African Junior Championships in Algeria where she won gold in the 100m and overcame a bad start to pick up bronze in the 200m. It was perhaps ironical that even though Nigeria failed to send a team to the championships, a Nigerian was the story of the event – albeit in the colours of another country.

Having relocated back to Nigeria in 2018, Christian who was one of sixteen new athletes unveiled by Track Club Making of Champions (MoC) in Lagos on Tuesday told that she pitching her tent with the athletics club was an easy decision.   

“Making of Champions (MoC) brought in the three things I needed – funding, coaching, and accommodation; everything I needed to become the best athlete I could possibly be,” she said about her motivations for settling with the Track Club.

Christian who is currently enrolled at the University of Lagos where she is pursuing an undergraduate degree in Human Kinetics and Health Education says having to adapt to a new environment after a long time away was “a little difficult in the beginning but, as things just fell into place everything was just becoming easier and easier”.

One thing that hasn’t been easy to deal with for her is the changes her body has undergone in the past few months where she has added a bit of height. She says managing the changes to her physique has proven her biggest challenge so far.

“My greatest challenge is handling injuries because right now my body is going through a period where it is trying to cope with everything that is going on. So right now it’s just me trying to figure out where I stand and making sure that I’m treating my muscles well and that I’m taking care of my body in order to get in the best possible shape that I can possibly get.”

Getting in top shape Christian says would enable her “get a new Personal Best (PB), make my coach proud, make my family proud and just keep showing that MoC is really the way for Nigeria. And having won laurels for Zimbabwe in the not too distant past, Christian says nothing would make her prouder than to don the colours of Nigeria at the African and World Athletics Championships later in the year.

“Nigeria is one of the best African countries in the world,” she says. “For me it would be phenomenal, it would be such a great opportunity if I actually got the chance to train in Nigeria and become part of the Nigerian team and I would just look back and think ‘oh, I used to run for Zimbabwe but look here I am, I’m running for Nigeria’ and I would be so proud.”