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Nigerians In Sports: Double Olympic Bronze Medalist – Mary Onyali-Omagbemi


Few Nigerian athletes can boast of representing the West African nation five times at the biggest sporting event in the globe, the Olympic Games. Our focus for today is the first Nigerian to achieve that feat, Mary Onyali Omagbemi, 1988-2004.

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For close to two decades, Onyali flew Nigeria’s flag high at the continental and global levels with her exploits on the track.

Born on February 3, 1968, the highlight of Onyali’s career came at the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona, Spain, where she won the Bronze medal in the 4x100m relay. Since then, Onyali made it a habit to win laurels for Nigeria at almost every sports event she contested in.

During the 1994 Commonwealth Games, in a race that saw another Nigerian coming in second place, Mary won the 100 metres title.

She would go further to win Bronze in the 200m event at the 1996 Olympics Games in Atlanta, USA.

Aside from her exploits globally, Onyali won more laurels at the continental level especially in the All Africa Games with a total of 7 individual medals in short prints (bronze medal win in 1987, and winner of 100m races in 1991, 1995, and 2003).

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Her exploits on the tracks also won her Gold medals in the 200m races of 1987, 1995, and 2003 All Africa Games. Onyali’s relay team won all their 4x100m races in the All Africa Games between 1987 and 2003.

The Olympian who currently works as the  Special Adviser (Technical) to the Director-General of the National Sports Commission in Nigeria, is married to fellow sprinter Victor Omagbemi.

Apart from her role in the consultation committee for the proposed Sports University of Nigeria, Idumuje-Ugboko, Onyali on September 21, 2020, was named one of the ambassadors for the rebranded National Principal’s Cup.


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I am a Lion, I love to hit heights that seem impossible so I can motivate others and prove doubters wrong. For me, impossible is nothing. I'm open to learning and I love to read, travel and meet new faces.

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