WARRINGTON canoeist Johny Akinyemi will finally achieve his dream of competing at an Olympic games after gaining qualification to London 2012.
The 23-year-old from Locking Stumps made history when defeating 2008 Olympic bronze medallist Benjamin Boukpeti in the 2012 African Slalom Championships at the weekend, meaning he will became the first Nigerian to represent the country at an Olympic slalom event.
Since giving up his rank as one of Team GB’s top slalom athletes to represent Nigeria – his father’s home country – Akinyemi has challenged for Olympic honours, going agonisingly close in 2008 when he missed out on qualification by a single place.
But that near miss has made this K1 achievement all the more special.
“It is something that I am really proud of,” said the former Culcheth High School pupil.
“The support I have received from the people of Nigeria has been great. They have been fantastic and it’s a privilege to represent them.
“I never thought that I would be making history like this.
“I remember when I first went to Warrington Canoe Club I was very unsteady and never in a million years thought that I would end up at the Olympics!”
Akinyemi trained in South Africa and Warrington during the build-up to the African Championships, with some financial support from the Nigerian Olympic committee, but he is now in need of sponsorship to help him reach the training camps necessary to compete for a medal at London 2012.
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