I’ll produce Nigeria’s next Olympic weight lifting medallist – Ogebifo

’Tana Aiyejina

Sydney 2000 Olympic Games silver medallist Ruth Ogbeifo-Balofin has embarked on a talent hunt and grooming exercise in a bid to produce the country’s next weightlifting greats and Olympic champions.

Despite the enormous talents at the country’s disposal, Nigeria has just two weightlifting medals to show at the Olympics, with Ogbeifo-Balofin setting the pace with a silver in the women’s 75kg event at the 2000 Summer Games in Sydney, while Mariam Usman claimed bronze eight years later at the Beijing Games.

In Usman’s case, providence played a role in emerging an Olympic medallist. Competing in the +75 kg division, she finished fifth at Beijing 2008, but was handed the bronze medal in 2016, after silver and bronze medallists Olha Korobka and Mariya Grabovetskaya tested positive for drugs use.

Ogbeifo-Balofin told The PUNCH she was planning to build a world-class weightlifting gym, where young lifters would be trained under best global conditions, in Nigeria, to actualise her dream.

“My aim is to train a champion of champions and I do have that strong belief that it will happen. It’s going to cost me my time, it’s going to cost me a lot of funds, it will cost a lot of things but with time, we’ll achieve our goals,” Ogbeifo-Balofin said.

“The Ruth Ogbeifo-Balofin Community Project, Offa is about giving back to the community where I started from. It is a weightlifting programme that started a long time ago but went down for some reasons. It was revived this year and we continue to move forward from now on. ROBCOP will produce an Olympian very soon by God’s grace.”