Monday, February 6, 2012


One of his favourite quotation is “It is not a disgrace to reach for the stars and fail, but it is a disgrace to have no stars to reach for. Aim high." So, it was that on a fine Saturday afternoon on February 4, in Bethlehem, South Africa, British-born Nigerian Johnathan  (Johny) Akinyemi, not only reached for the stars, he claimed it in spectacular fashion. He made history by becoming the first Nigerian to qualify to represent the country at any Olympics canoe slalom competition.
In what was labeled one of the biggest upset at the just concluded 2012 African Slalom Championships - which serves as qualifiers for the London 2012 Olympic Games, Akinyemi finished first ahead of Beijing 2008 bronze medallist French-born Togolese Benjamin Boukpeti and Mehi Rouich or Morocco, to qualify to represent Nigeria and Africa at the London 2012 Olympics canoe slalom competition. With this victory, Akinyemi also became the first Nigerian to be crowned the African Slalom Men’s K1 Champion.
Born and raised in England, Johny Akinyemi gave up his place last year at the top of the British canoe rankings to compete for Nigeria, his father's home country. By 2006, he was already junior British national champion and first visited Nigeria in 2007 when he was aged 18. That changed the course of his Olympic dream. “When I was a junior I used to raced for Great Britain. I started to get in touch with my dad’s side and became more interested in Nigeria,” explained Akinyemi when asked why he decided to compete for Nigeria instead of Great Britain.
“There's a choice, either you can ignore who you are or embrace it. I personally am really proud of my Nigerian nationality and want to embrace it as much as I can. I'm really grateful to the Nigerian Olympic Committee for allowing me to do it and for helping me explore that side of me,” he had noted in an interview with the BBC. Akinyemi also added that he hopes to help unlock the future of Nigerian young canoeing as well as inspire young Nigerians to rise through the ranks.  With his recent exploits at the African Slalom competition and a London 2012 Olympic medal in his sight, Akinyemi has certainly achieved that.

1 comment:

  1. I listened to this young ambitious Man saying he wanted to reverse the case where african altletes represent another nation. My joy is to watch you defeat the world and win the Olympic Gold Medal for Nigeria.
    W E L C O M E J O H N Y !!!