Four years after he was denied a place at the Beijing Olympics, University of Nottingham alumnus Johny Akinyemi (Philosophy/Theology 2010) has been selected to represent Team Nigeria in London later this month.
The K1 canoe slalom athlete believed he had qualified for the 2008 Olympic Games but had to give way as the host nation were given the last spot in his event.
Undaunted, Johny continued with his University of Nottingham studies and trained as hard as he could using the facilities at the Holme Pierrepont National Water Sports Centre in Nottingham.
After graduating in 2010 he dedicated himself and the hard work paid off handsomely as earlier this year Johny retained his African K1 canoeing title on the Ash River, Bethlehem in South Africa.
He is the first Nigerian to be crowned as African number one in the sport. Akinyemi dethroned the reigning African Champion, Benjamin Boukpeti of Togo, who also won the bronze medal at the Beijing Olympic Games.
Johny, a British-born Nigerian said: “People thought it would be a foregone conclusion that Benjamin would qualify but I’d be training very hard, day-in day-out and I knew I felt good, I’d been paddling the best ever so I was quietly confident. I love the sport and I’m thrilled to be taking part in the London 2012 Olympic Games.”
Dad John is also Johny’s coach and will be there at Lee Valley to see his son compete in the most important sporting event of his life.
“Dad’s been a massive help and my biggest support because I don’t have the back up that some of my competitors, like the Team GB canoeists, have. It’s up to me and my coach to make sure my boat arrives at international competitions and to make our own travel arrangements. But we get on really well and spend a lot of time together.
“I don’t know about my chances in the event. I’m training hard and confident in my paddling. My first goal is to get through the early rounds of the competition so that I could have a go at the semi-final and final.”
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