Thursday, March 8, 2012

Nigeria’s Johny Akinyemi Wins ICF Athlete of the Month

Nigeria’s Jonathan "Johny" Akinyemi has been voted the February ICF Athlete of the Month. A gold medallist at the 2012 African Canoe Slalom Championships in South Africa, Akinyemi went head to head with Beijing bronze medallist Benjamin Boukpeti (TOG) and retained his K1 title, thereby securing Africa’s sole K1 spot at the London 2012 Olympic Games. “It’s just absolutely incredible and I’ve not stopped smiling since I won the race. I wake up at night and after about ten seconds remember that I’ve qualified for the Olympics and I just laugh out loud. I’m just so happy.

Akinyemi, who holds a degree in Theology and is currently studying Accounting in university, received 55% of the votes in a poll that saw an unprecedented number of visitors access the ICF website to vote. Poland’s Marcin Pochwala and Piotr Szczepanski came in a close 2nd place. “Good news....I won ICF athlete of the month! Thanks for the votes everyone. #TeamNigeria,” tweeted the 23-year-old after the results came through.

Akinyemi who has a British mother and a Nigerian father grew up in Warrington 12 years old started Canoeing at his local canoeing club. Inspired by the achievements of Paul Ratcliffe (GBR) who won silver in the K1 event at the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games, he gave up his place at the top of the British canoe rankings to compete for Nigeria, his father's home country, after a first visit to Nigeria in 2007.

Launched in 2009, the ICF Athlete of the Month initiative is designed to recognize the outstanding performances of paddlers from all over the world.

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