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Annette Echikunwoke on why she abandoned Nigeria for USA: ‘I felt valued here’

Annette Echikunwoke on why she abandoned Nigeria for USA: ‘I felt valued here’

Hammer thrower Annette Echikunwoke has revealed her reasons for switching allegiance back to the United States after a brief stint with Nigeria, citing administrative issues and a lack of proper athlete support.

She recently became the 2024 United States national champion, throwing a distance of 74.88m to win the hammer title and qualify for the Paris 2024 Olympics.

Echikunwoke had initially switched from the USA to Nigeria in the lead-up to the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, but faced a major setback when she was barred from competing. The Athletics Integrity Unit prevented her and several other athletes from participating due to their failure to complete the mandatory three out-of-competition tests.

Echikunwoke at the Nigeria Olympics Trials at Yaba College of Technology, Lagos in June 2021. Photo: Tosin Oluwalowo

This experience led to her decision to return to Team USA after the disappointment of missing her maiden Olympics, which she considered the most traumatic experience of her life. She then competed in the United States colours at the 2023 World Championships in Budapest.

“The hope with Nigeria was to just represent my family’s home country,” Echikunwoke told Dyestat.com. “And then they kind of on the admin side didn’t hold up to their end of things.”

Frustrated by the administrative shortcomings that cost her an Olympic appearance, Echikunwoke sought a different environment. “I want to go where I’m valued as an athlete,” she stated. “And I felt like USA Track and Field did just that. And I’ve been feeling that since I’ve been here.”

Despite the complicated journey, Echikunwoke expressed no regrets about her latest decision. “I’m proud to represent the United States,” she declared, “and I’m looking forward to do that in Paris.”

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