Full Name: Chioma Ajunwa Opara
Stage Name: Chioma Ajunwa
Place of Birth: Umuchukwu in the Orumba South Local Government Area of Anambra State
Date of Birth: December 25th, 1970
Marriage Status: Married
Languages: English, Igbo
Sports: Football, Long Jump
Occupation: Former Athlete, Police Officer [DPO]
Awards: Olympic Gold Medalist, Member of the Order of Niger [MON] Award, Community Chieftaincy Title, Nigeria Golden Jubilee Independence Awards
Appointments and Membership of Bodies:
Chairperson of the Women’s Development Committee of Imo State Football Association. 2011
Member of Committee on the Revival of the Nigeria Academicals Sports Competitions. 2011
Ajunwa initially played football for the Nigerian women’s team but then made a transition into athletics. Ajunwa performed notably as a track and field athlete at the African Games and African Championships between 1989 and 1991, before being banned from the sport for four years after failing a drug test in 1992. Following the completion of her drug-related ban from competition, Ajunwa went on to become the first African woman, as well as the first Nigerian, to win an Olympic gold medal in a track and field event – Ajunwa emerged victorious in the women’s long jump event at the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta, Georgia, with a jump of 7.12m (for her first attempt) during the final. The Nigerian athlete’s profession whilst completing many of the aforementioned achievements was that of an officer with the Nigerian Police Force.
Following her winning of Olympic gold medal at 1996 Summer Olympic Games at Atlanta, United States, Chioma Ajunwa was given a national award – Member of the Order of Niger (MON)- by the then Head of State of Nigeria Sani Abacha. The whole nation stood still and watched with joy as Chioma stepped forward to receive the award, adorning the first individual Olympic gold to be ever won by a Nigerian. She retired from athletics in 2003.
Immediately after, Chioma was received by her home State – Imo State. Her community proudly bestowed on her a chieftaincy title. A rare thing for a young woman of her age!
On October 1, 2010, Nigeria celebrated with fanfare its 50th Independence anniversary. As part of that celebration, on Thursday September 30, 2010, President Goodluck Jonathan conferred special Golden Jubilee Independence Awards on 50 distinguished Nigerians and friends of Nigeria including Chioma Ajunwa for their various roles and contributions to the development of the country. Being selected from among millions of other achievers and listed among the founding fathers of Nigerian nation, most of whom Chioma read about in History class made Chioma to say “It is the Lord’s doing. I am grateful to God”. This award no doubt will further intensify the patriotic fire that burns in her heart for Nigeria and Nigerians.
On Friday April 30, 2010 Chioma Ajunwa delivered a powerful paper on “War against the use of illicit Drugs in Sports” at an Interactive Session organized by Athletics Federation of Nigeria (AFN) for Athletes as part of 3rd Leg of AFN Golden League at Yaba College of Technology Sports Complex, Yaba, Lagos. The abridged version of this paper titled “Fighting the Root Causes of Doping in Athletics” is available on the cyberspace. In the second half of the year 2010, Chioma stepped up her anti-doping activities by starting an integrated campaign aptly tagged ‘Compete Fair & Clean’. This initiative which she has so far personally financed involves communicating anti-doping messages directly to budding athletes and their coaches at athletic events. Awareness and Red-flag workshops and seminars are being organized with kind cooperation of Athletics Federation of Nigeria (AFN). She also enjoys the support and solidarity of former national athletes. At athletic meets, banners are placed at stadiums and informative publications as well as t-shirts with punchy anti-doping messages are given to athletes and coaches. The response of the target audience has been massive.
She is currently the Divisional Police Officer (DPO) of Meran police station in Lagos.