Nigerian Paralympic gold-medalist and world record holder in Javelin Flora Ugwunwa moved from almost been decamped to a world champion a feat that was borne from self belief and support from her husband who quit his job to help her train.
Flora who has paraplegia due to the effects of polio started para-sports in 2004 while she was in secondary school and the experience as she describes it has been bittersweet “Being a Nigerian Para-Athlete is no joke because there’s nothing to motivate us, we just believe we can do things irrespective of what we’re going through.”
Opening up on her journey, Flora said preparing for the Rio Paralympics game was tough as members of the Nigerian Paralympics federation had doubts if she could deliver a medal at the games “It was not an easy task, while we were in camp the Secretary told them to decamp me because I had a medical challenge and bring someone else but I kept believing and when I was finally cleared to compete I gave it my all and that’s how I won, it’s one of the best experience of my career.”
Self belief is a major ingredient for success but having a support system that works is also a plus, something that Flora had and credits for her rise.
“As the saying goes behind every successful man is a woman but for me behind every successful woman is a man, my husband did everything for me to be happy. When he noticed the challenges I was facing, as I was being sidelined for athletes I was better than, he quit his job and started training with me, he wasn’t into sports but things worked out well when we started working together.”
Flora got married in 2014, and started training with her husband immediately after in preparation for the All Africa games. In 2015 erased Tunisian Hania Aidi’s World Record (WR) of 18.86m set at the IPC World Championships in Doha and was a GOLD medallist at the 2015 African Games in Congo Brazzaville. She won a silver medal at the 2019 world para-atheletics championship which qualified her for the 2020 Paralympics game.
Flora Ugwunwa who serves as the female athletes’ representative in the Paralympic Committee of Nigeria has revealed she will break her world record at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics.