Making his debut at the Olympic Games, Uche Eke, the first Nigerian athlete to compete in the gymnastic events of the Games, has set his sights on winning a medal for Nigeria.
After a gold-winning debut at the African Games in Morocco in 2019, the 23-year-old will be going all out to show the world the result of 20 years of training; preparations that started when a then three-year-old Eke began doing backflips in his parents’ sitting room.
“I am not under any pressure, I just want to go out there and do my stuff,” he said. “I want to win a medal for Nigeria, but first I will need to get to the final. That is the first step to winning a medal.
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“I will be competing in six events and if I make the finals, anything can happen. I want to go out there and put all the hard work of 20 years, when I first started gymnastics, to the test.
“I am not going to be concentrating on any other person; I will focus on myself and do what I have to do out there.”
On his feelings after qualifying for the Olympics, the gymnast, who hails from Anambra State, said it was a dream come true.
“I pinched myself and had to ask myself if I was dreaming, for I really did it,” he recalled with excitement. “Then I quickly re-watched the video that I made while in the bathroom, saying this is the day to see if I’m an Olympian or not.
“I always do these quick video snippets of me facing the mirror in the bathroom; videos that I would watch at the end of the events to see if I would be happy or sad. But on that day, I was so happy. I was just super excited.”
Eke is scheduled to compete at the Ariake Gymnastics Centre, in Tokyo, the venue of the Olympic Games gymnastics events from Saturday, July 24.
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