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Paris 2024: Team Nigeria Can Win Medal In 4×100 Relay –Tiana Eyakpobeyan

Despite her young age, 17-year-old Tiana Eyakpobeyan has helped the senior team to win relay gold at both the African Games and African Championships, also helping the team to qualify for the Olympic Games in Paris. Speaking with New Telegraph’s CHARLES OGUNDIYA, the teenage sensation said her ambition is to help the team to the podium in Paris. Excerpts…

How does it feel to be part of Team Nigeria at the Olympics?

I’m happy to be part of the team to qualify for the Olympics and make the final squad to Paris. It’s a great feeling and I’m so glad about it. Now the work is just starting and we as a team must work so hard to make Nigerians proud.

You started with the youths and recently you helped the senior relay team to win gold in Cameroon at the African Championship, replicating what you did earlier in the year at the African Games, what other laurels have you won in athletics?

I’ve won the national U-18 double gold in Kaduna. Then I went on to win a silver in U-18 and U-20 combine championships in Zambia. I won silver in the 100m and bronze in the 200m. In the 4×100 medley relay, I won gold. At the Commonwealth Games, I won silver in the 100m and 200m, also in the 4×100 mixed relay, I won gold.

What should we expect from you as you prepare for the Olympics?

We are expecting God’s doing upon Tiana’s life. I’m going to put in my effort to make sure the team succeed because I will not be doing the 100m flat in Paris, so for the 4x100m relay that I will be doing, I’m going to put in a lot of effort to make the girls qualify for the finals and to have a place in the podium.

How has participating in sports influenced your life and identity as an African woman on and off the field?

Participating has been fun and has influenced my life by helping me realize my capabilities, bringing out my strengths, and teaching me valuable lessons about teamwork.

Off the field, I’ve learned about the importance of collaboration and working towards a common goal. This experience has empowered me and boosted my confidence, both on and off the field. Though it hasn’t been easy, I am grateful to God for where I am today.

What challenges have you faced on the job?

The challenges I have faced as a female athlete have mainly been financial. We need more financial support to take care of ourselves, just like male athletes. Having people who encourage and support us is a great thing and I think that’s it.

How have you been able to overcome some of the challenges to get to where you are today?

It’s having people that support and encourage me like my coach, teammates, my family and God that has shown a great impact on my life and that is how I can overcome it.

You are set for the Olympics, what are your primary goals for the Games in Paris?

My primary goal is to push and do better than I’ve been doing. Coming to the Olympics I know that I won’t be running in the individual races so all effort will be put into the 4x100m like I said before, the main target will be to get to the final first and from there we will focus on getting on the podium.

The World Athletics announced that all the gold winners will get cash rewards, is that also a motivation for the team?

Yes! It is a good motivation for us to fight hard to make it to the podium at the Olympics because that is part of the encouragement. Having something like that will make us have confidence in ourselves and see that if we make it to the podium, these things are going to happen.

How does it feel to represent Nigeria on the global stage?

It feels good because my story is interesting. Coming from my last season that was great, winning the national double and since then I made it to the world and made it to the Olympics.

It’s a great feeling and I’m happy for the feeling because at this young age being able to compete and make it to the world championships and joining the team to qualify is exciting and a testament that great things are going to happen.

How would participating in the Olympics inspire other people to think of taking athletics as a career?

Being able to participate in the Olympics will inspire African young women.

It shows my determination, my skills and also the power I have will show the younger ones not to give up, to pursue their passion in sport and outside sports.

It’s a great feeling that is going to motivate young and new generations of women in Africa.

What would be your advice to those in schools, out there on the streets, who are into track and field?

I will say that they should keep believing and know that one day, God is going to make them also a future Olympics and world champions.

My advice to them is that they should stay focused, and those that are already in the sport should stay focused and they should put God first because without God nothing would have been possible, not even me being able to win or qualify for the Worlds or Olympics.

I will say they should keep their head down, work hard and they should always pray. The Bible says that when the time is right, I the lord will make it happen. That’s what is going to happen if they believe the word of God.

What should the world expect from you in a few years?

The world is going to see a better me because God will use me to have a great impact on women’s sprints in Nigeria. Hopefully, God is going to make me one of the stars in the world and at the Olympics level.

Tell us how you came into track and field.

It started with me running in inter house sports competitions when I was in high school and from there I’ve been trying to improve more on my performance. God is doing great work in my life and I’ve been training so hard too to make both the senior and junior teams.

What would you tell the younger ones looking up to you?

To the ones that are looking up to me, I’m still a young athlete and the ones still coming up. I will say they should keep their heads down train hard and always put God first and everything will go as planned.

FACTS

Did you know that The five rings of the Olympic symbol – designed by Baron Pierre de Coubertin, co-founder of the modern Olympic Games – represent the five inhabited continents of the world?

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