Former University of Cincinnati track and field standout Annette Echikunwoke will represent Nigeria later this month in the Tokyo Olympics.
Echikunwoke, a native of Pickerington, Ohio, whose parents are from Nigeria, will compete in the hammer throw. Echikunwoke won the Bearcats' first national championship in track and field in 2017, pacing the field in the indoor weight throw event.
"I'm super excited, super pumped about it," Echikunwoke said Tuesday during a news conference at UC. "The fact that I get to not only represent Nigeria at the highest stage, I mean, that's my family's home country, but also UC, it just speaks to the encouragement and the support that I've gotten from UC all this time."
Echikunwoke is one of three former UC athletes who will compete in the Tokyo Olympics. Former Bearcats women's soccer standout Vanessa Gilles, an Ottawa, Ontario, native, will be a defender on the Canada women's national soccer team, while Jordan Thompson will play for the U.S. women's volleyball team.
Echikunwoke said it's exciting for the three women to have the opportunity to represent the university on the Olympic stage.
"Honestly, my first thought when I saw that was, OK, I hope we get a picture together at the opening ceremony," she said.
Echikunwoke, Gilles and Thompson will be the first UC athletes to compete in the Olympics since Mary Wineberg in 2008. Wineberg, a Walnut Hills High School graduate, won gold as part of the U.S. women's 4-by-400-meter relay team in the Beijing Olympics.
Qualifying rounds for the women’s hammer throw are scheduled to begin at 8:10 p.m. on July 31.