Nigeria’s pioneering gymnastics competitor at the Olympic Games, Uche Eke is staying upbeat, despite failing to keep alive his medals’ dream at Tokyo 2020, as he crashed out on Saturday.
Megasportsarena.com reports that, although he missed the chance of qualifying for the quarter-finals in the gymnastics event, the USA- based men’s all round artistic competitor refused to be dampened in morale.
The 24-year-old Eke, who placed 36th with a score of 74.765 which was not enough for a place in the last eight, but he is relishing his feat as Nigeria’s sole gymnastics representative in Tokyo.
Eke, who is the first Nigerian in history to compete in Artistic Gymnastics, finished 58th overall after the three sub-divisions were concluded, as his best performance came in the third rotation while competing in the vault where he scored 13.433 points.
The history-maker, who won a gold medal two years ago at the African Games in Rabat, then put up decent showings on the floor (12.833 points) and the Pommel Horse (12.866 points).
Nonetheless, the Computer Science Engineering graduate from University of Michigan remains proud to have placed Nigeria on the global map as far as gymnastics is concerned.
It is indeed a massive step forward for USA-born Eke, who started competing for Michigan Wolverines men’s college team, before joining Fairland Gymnastics club.
“Being the first male Artistic Gymnast repping Nigeria is crazy. I feel so happy because my dream just turned into reality. I have been dreaming of this moment ever since I was a kid,” Eke said.
His feat has also been documented by Making Of Champions’ writer, Christopher Maduewesi, who stated: “The mere fact Uche Eke was the first Nigerian in history to compete in Artistic Gymnastics at an Olympic Games, was a win on its own.
“It didn’t matter much whether he was challenging for a medal, the new found fans were quite happy he was putting the country on that sporting map.
“Eke on Saturday at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics competed in the men’s All-Around, and as at the time of this report, he was in 36th place overall after the two subdivisions were concluded amassing a points tally of 74.765.
“His best performance came in the third Rotation while competing in the Vault where he scored 13.433 points, and then put up respectable showings on the Floor (12.833 points) and the Pommel Horse (12.866 points).
“Not many Nigerian fans knew who Eke was before the Olympics, and despite the fact that he won a GOLD medal in the Pommel Horse two years ago in Rabat at the African Games, Gymnastics is not a household name in Nigeria.
“With Eke’s emergence on the scene, and showing that Nigerians can actually make it to the Olympics in Gymnastics, there’s no doubt he is already inspiring a new wave of attention for the sport in the country where Football has held sway for a long time.”