With shattered dreams and a frustrating life, of this middle aged slow talker, you can hardly see that young Port Harcourt boy in him, who after watching Oliver Orok in the weightlifting event of the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics games, became so fascinated by the by the sports of weightlifting, that the 15 year old Aduche Ojadi from Omoku, in Ogba Egbema Ndoni LGA (ONELGA), Rivers State, decided to drop every other ambition and focus on this new found love.
Little did the young lad knew that for him, it will be a swift rise to glory and a gory tale of lifelong pain and abandonment, synonymous with our expended national heroes.
Below is an abridged account of the career and times of Aduche Ojadi:
1984- Ojadi was introduced to weightlifting training by Amiofori George in Port Harcourt.
1985- In his first competition in Kwara State, he unseated the then national champion, Bartholomew Oluoma
1986- Under the tutelage of Ivan Ganeff, he won 3 gold medals in the African Weightlifting Championship at the super heavy class in Libya.
1987- He won 2 gold and 1 silver in 110kg class of the All African games in Kenya.
1988- He won 3 gold medals in the Junior African Championship in Tunisia.
1988- He made his first Olympic appearance and was placed 7th at Seoul, South Korea.
1989- He won 3 gold medals at the African Championship in Libya.
1990- He won 3 silver medals at the World Junior Weightlifting Championships at Athens, Greece.
1990- He won 1 gold and 2 silver medals at the Commonwealth Games in New Zealand.
1991- He won 3 gold medals, and set a new record in the snatch and clean and jerk events at the All African Games in Egypt.
1992- Was already within medal placement before he was forced to pull out of the Olympics games due to a shoulder injury that ultimately ended his Weightlifting career.
This gentle giant that was the Nigerian plaque bearer at the Seoul Olympics Games and the predominant face of the NTA Network sports opening sequence, seem forgotten by his State when they gave the 50th anniversary Distinguished Service Star Award, even though he’s the weightlifting coach for the state’s team, as he wonders if he did not distinguish himself enough with all the medals won or the records broken to make his State and country proud. He is not even showcased during sporting events. He is abandoned by a Country that should have put him on the map, like other nations do to their heroes. Not even a plaque or any recognition to his name,other than NTA opening sequence for their sports segment.
How long will we allow the youths to look up to these heroes, thinking their labours are in vain for serving the country and putting them on the map positively on an international stage?
Aduche Ojadi deserves to be remembered to serve as a positive reminder of his labour and contribution to the country and the sports world. Why wait till he falls ill or worse, to accord him the respect and recognition he should be enjoying while alive, and fit?
To be continued.