It’s a huge honour to represent the entire Continent of Africa at the Continental Cup – Chukwuebuka Enekwechi

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Chukwuebuka Enekwechi is unarguably Nigeria’s best field athlete in 2018, with the Shot Put thrower steadily rising on the ranks as one of the best throwers to come out of not just Nigeria, but the Continent as a whole.

This year he’s recorded brilliant performances while setting records in the process, which includes throwing a distance of 21.14m to win Commonwealth Silver, and setting a Championship Record (CR) of 21.08m to be crowned African Champion in Asaba, thus becoming the first Nigerian in history to do so the same year.

Asides his African title deservedly earning him a spot on our Nigeria’s best performers list in Asaba, he also automatically sealed his name to represent Africa at the IAAF Continental Cup in Ostrava, this weekend, September 8-9.

We got chatting with him on what’s been responsible for his successful season so far, and what his expectations are ahead of the Continental Cup.

You’ve had an outstanding 2018 season. Can you give a breakdown on how the season has made you feel since it began?

CE: I feel the season has gone nicely, even though I expected it to be better in some key areas. I would have liked World Indoors to have been a better experience, as well as to have had a chance for a big throw when I was primed to go in June. Despite that, I’ve achieved two medals and remained in good health so I cannot complain.

You have two major medals in your name this year, of which we can call a breakout professional season for you. Who and What’s been responsible for this success?

CE: Just the Grace of God. I wasn’t fortunate to have a coach this season. I did all of my preparations and programming myself since February. I’m blessed to have made good fruitful decisions with training and to stay focused. I also would not be able to handle the stress without the support of my loved ones.

Does this mean you coached yourself to the Commonwealth silver and African title?

CE: Yes. It was very scary especially trying to prepare for the Commonwealth Games but I had to give it my best.

This is inspiring!

CE: Thank you. That means a lot.

So the Commonwealth was your best moment this year, at least until Ostrava is over?

CE: Yes, so far it was the highlight of the season.

You came to Asaba as Nigeria’s best thrower in 2018, and you ended up leaving as the CR holder. Was this your target coming to Asaba?

CE: I actually did not expect that. Janus Roberts, the previous record holder was one of the greatest throwers to come out of Africa. I watched videos of him when I was coming up in the sport. To have my name associated with his is an honour. My real focus then was to secure a medal at the Championship, I wasn’t even focused on the distance thrown as much as that.

So the record was a plus for you?

CE: A big one! I didn’t realise until I heard an announcement on the loud speaker.

With you having the GR, guess you now have your eyes set on the Nigerian and African record?

CE: I believe they will come on pretty much the same way. I prepare to compete well and those records will show eventually. I prefer Championship medals over records. I threw the National record in the Hammer Throw in 2015 (72.77m), but for reasons unknown it was never officially ratified. So I’m not worried about any other records.

Speaking of medals, you’re the African Gold medallist, how do you feel representing Africa at the Continental Cup in Ostrava?

CE: When I found out a month ago, I was extremely excited. It’s a huge honour to represent the entire Continent of Africa. As the competition draws near, I do worry about just how much the jet lag will affect my performance and just who’s the person that constantly misspells my name. Despite those two things, I’m ready to give it my all and hopefully end my season well.

Any targets in Ostrava, hopefully getting the maximum points against some of the world’s best Shot Putters?

CE: Definitely! I fully intend on scoring points for the team. That’s the big goal right after prize money.

With your consistent performances this year, hope we’re going to see you in the Diamond League circuit in 2019?

CE: I think that one falls squarely on my Agent and the Diamond League itself. Would be nice though.

We both know Nigerian athletes face a lot of challenges, especially from the administrative level. How did you put up with their inadequacies to make sure you had a brilliant 2018 season.

CE: After the mess that was World Indoors (there were no team officials helping and managing us athletes in Birmingham, and we received our tickets with one day notice), I came back to the United States angry and decided to get much stronger in the weighting room and I changed my throwing technique to a safer style. I know that in my preparations for meets that are very important, something/someone will get in my way so I’ve tried to make sure that I’m ready to throw well everyday of the week.

Let’s put you on the spot, what’s your favourite Nigerian food and musician?

CE: I’ve always enjoyed pounded yam and egusi soup. As far as musicians, Mr Raw was very popular years ago and I was a big fan.

Finally, what’s your advice for young upcoming Nigerian throwers both within and outside the country?

CE: To the young ones comping up, this sport is difficult but just about anything is possible if you believe in yourself and prepare well. Study the sport and groom your body for big things and you’ll acheive it.

Thanks for your time and all the best in Ostrava.

Enekwechi during one of his throws at the Commonwealth Games in Australia

CE: Thank you!

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