Since she broke into the senior national team in 2014, long jumper, Ese Brume has maintained a steady rise on the track.
The long jump sensation was almost the sole reason many Nigerians followed athletics at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games in Brazil, after all the ‘big names’ failed to live up to expectation.
Though Brume could not win a medal, her remarkable achievement in Brazil, making the long jump final, and finishing fifth with a leap of 6.81m in the midst of world-beaters, still remain a talking point in Nigeria’s athletics history.
She is gradually inching towards a legendary status in the nation’s sports despite her youthful age.
At the just concluded Asaba 2018 African Senior Athletics Championship, Cyprus-based Brume rose to the occasion by winning a gold medal, her third in the Championships.
In 2014, a relatively unknown Brume took the entire Commonwealth by surprise when she conquered all senior competitors in the race for the gold medal in the long jump event. That was in Glasgow, Scotland.
A few days later, she made Team Nigeria’s contingent to the African Senior Athletics Championship in Marrakech, Morocco, where she won gold.
While Brume was able to defend her African title two years ago in Durban, South Africa, the Athletics Federation of Nigeria (AFN) denied her the opportunity of defending her Commonwealth Games’ title earlier this year in Gold Coast, Australia.
Her morale dropped, but she did not allow the frustration to weigh her down.
At Asaba 2018, the focus of many athletics followers was on home-girl Brume to increase Team Nigeria’s medals haul on Day 3 of the championship when the male athletes failed to give good account of themselves.
She responded with a big bang, winning the gold with a leap of 6.83 meters to equal her season’s best recorded earlier this year in Jamaica.
As she made a lap around the Stephen Keshi Stadium, fans, both in the VIP and popular stands, applauded her for her zeal, doggedness and never-say-die attitude on the track.
She was the third gold medallist for Team Nigeria at Asaba 2018 Championship.
The former African junior record holder in the long jump became the most sought-after athlete soon afterwards.
As usual, the Ughelli-born athlete was full of smile as she made her appearance into the Media Center, where local and foreign journalists were waiting.
Unlike some Nigerian athletes such as Blessing Okagbare-Ighoteguonor, who don’t see journalists as partners in track and field business, Brume took her time to attend to everyone, providing answers to every question thrown at her.
In the company of her coach, Yahaya Kayode, Brume told The Guardian that she would always give her best whenever the country called on her.
“I am a Nigerian and I am proud to represent my country here in Asaba. And I am very happy to write my name in gold on home soil,” she said.
Born in 1996, Brume holds a personal best of 6.83m (22 ft 4 3⁄4 in).
She is the African junior record holder in long jump event, a record she set at the 2013 African Junior Athletics Championships in Mauritius, where she won three medals (two gold and one silver) for Team Nigeria.
She was one of the most successful athletes at Mauritius 2013, winning the long jump title, silver in the triple jump, and was part of Nigeria’s 4×100m relay winning team.
She also placed fourth in the 100m event.
She first emerged at a national level in 2012 alongside former junior athletes, Dakolo Emmanuel Junos and Febian Edoki during the Nigerian Athletics Championships. She placed sixth in the long jump, clearing over six metres.
Brume went on to win a gold medal for Team Delta at Eko 2012 National Sports Festival, and the following year, she set a personal best of 6.53m (21 ft 5 in) to place second at the All Nigerian Open Championship in Calabar, behind Blessing Okagbare.
In May 2014, Brume ran a 100m best of 11.84 seconds and followed it with a long jump best and new African junior record of 6.60 m (21 ft 7 3⁄4 in) to win at the Warri Relays.
She improved to 6.68 m (21 ft 10 3⁄4 in) at the Nigerian Championships to win her first national title.
Brume made Nigerian team to the 2014 World Junior Athletics Championships in Eugene, Oregon, but having flown to the competition venue just a day before competing, she could not perform well, finishing bottom in the qualifier.
But she was able to make up for it just five days later, when she represented Nigeria at the 2014 Commonwealth Games, winning her first gold at the senior level by clearing 6.56 m (21 ft 6 1⁄4 in) in the final.
Brume was one of the athletes who emerged from the regime of former Delta State Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan, who invested heavily in track and field.
The Uduaghan-led administration also supported the state athletes financially.
As a result of her medal feats, Brume was given an athletic scholarship to study in the United States, with local government support, though she opted for North Cyprus, where she is on a scholarship programme with Eastern Mediterranean University, Famagusta, studying Tourism and Hospitality management.
After overcoming a stiff challenge from Marthe Koala of Burundi and Lynique Beneke of South Africa to win the gold medal at Asaba 2018, Brume told The Guardian that her dream is to become Nigeria’s second athlete after Chioma Ajunwa to win an Olympics gold medal in the long jump.
Her target is the Tokyo 2020 Olympics Games.
“I believe so much in God, but I am working very hard to realise my dream in Tokyo,” Brume said, as she made her exit from the Media Center of the Stephen Keshi Stadium in Asaba.
Credit: The Guardian Newspapers
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Image Credits: Ese Brume, The Guardian Newspapers