The first Nigerian athlete to compete in the gymnastic events of the Games, Uche Eke, has set his sights on winning a medal on his debut at Tokyo 2020.
After a gold-winning debut at the African Games in Morocco in 2019, the 23-year-old will be going all out to show the world the result of 20 years of training; preparations that started when a then three-year-old Eke began doing backflips in his parents’ sitting room.
“I am not under any pressure, I just want to go out there and do my stuff,” he said. “I want to win a medal for Nigeria, but first I will need to get to the final. That is the first step to winning a medal.
“I will be competing in six events and if I make the finals, anything can happen. I want to go out there and put all the hard work of 20 years, when I first started gymnastics, to the test.
“I am not going to be concentrating on any other person; I will focus on myself and do what I have to do out there.”
On his feelings after qualifying for the Olympics, the gymnast, who hails from Anambra State, said it was a dream come true.
“I pinched myself and had to ask myself if I was dreaming, for I really did it,” he recalled with excitement. “Then I quickly re-watched the video that I made while in the bathroom, saying this is the day to see if I’m an Olympian or not.”
He continued: “I always do these quick video snippets of me facing the mirror in the bathroom; videos that I would watch at the end of the events to see if I would be happy or sad. But on that day, I was so happy. I was just super excited.”
Eke is scheduled to compete at the Ariake Gymnastics Centre, in Tokyo, the venue of the Olympic Games gymnastics events from tomorrow.