Reigning Nigeria’s Shot Put king, Chukwuebuka Enekwechi is set to make his debut in the money-spinning IAAF Diamond League when the train makes its fourth of 14 stops at the Golden Gala Pietro Mennea in Rome, Italy on Thursday.
Chuwuebuka is currently ranked the fifth best in the world this year following his 21.77m national record-setting effort in April at the 2019 IAAF World Challenge and IAAF Hammer Throw Challenge at the Estádio do Centro Nacional de Desenvolvimento do Atletismo in Bragança Paulista, São Paulo.
The 26 year old is following in the footsteps of sprint hurdler, Tobi Amusan who also made her IAAF Diamond League debut in Rome last year.
Chukwuebuka is thus the fourth Nigerian to compete at the Golden Gala Pietro Mennea since the IAAF Diamond League made its bow in 2010.
Sprinter, Gloria Asunmu who competed twice (11.31,2011 and 11.30 2012) in the 100m and Tosin Oke (16.36m,2013) who competed in the triple jump are the other two who have competed in Rome since 2010.
Reigning African 200m record holder, Blessing Okagbare-Ighoteguonor missed out yet again for the 10th consecutive year as she was not listed in the star-studded 100m race expected to be one of the major highlight of Thursday’s event.
In Rome, Britain’s Dina Asher-Smith will confront 2016 Olympic double sprint champion, Elaine Thompson,2017 IAAF World Championship double sprint silver medallist, Cote D’Ivoire’s Ta Lou Marie-Josée and 2013 USA Outdoor Track and Field Championships 100m winner, English Gardener, who is one of the 10 fastest women ever over the 100m. Okagbare-Ighotegunor has never competed at the Stadio Olympico in Rome, the venue where another Nigerian, quartermiler, Charity Opara raced to a 49.29 seconds world lead on July 14,1998.
Chukwuebuka will be hoping to become the first Nigerian man to break the 22m barrier and announce himself as a contender for a podium place in September/October at the IAAF flagship event, the World Championship in Doha, Qatar.
This will be Chukwuebuka third competition in the Shot Put this outdoor season after he opened his summer campaign on April 13, putting 21.15m at the Illini Twilight Meet in Champaign-Urbana at the midwestern state of Illinois, USA.
He then moved to Sao Paulo in Brazil two weeks later to heave that massive 21.77m to shatter the three year old 21.76m record held by Stephen Mozia.