When Peacemaker Azuegbulam endured life-altering injuries while serving his beloved Nigeria in combat, he couldn’t have foreseen that three years down the line, he would proudly wear a gold medal around his neck.
Azuegbulam was a vital part of Nigeria’s delegation at the 2023 Invictus Games held in Dusseldorf, marking the inaugural participation of an African nation in this prestigious event.
The Invictus Games, conceived by Prince Harry in 2014, is a platform for wounded, injured, and sick servicemen and women to showcase their indomitable spirit. This year’s edition brought together over 500 competitors from 21 nations. The name “Invictus,” of Latin origin, translates to “undefeated” or “unconquerable,” a term closely associated with a poem frequently recited by the iconic Nelson Mandela. Now, Azuegbulam stands as a living testament to the profound meaning behind this word.
“I feel so good. I feel great. I feel powerful because I’m the first African Invictus medalist,” beamed the single-leg amputee during an interview with the BBC’s Focus On Africa podcast.
For the 27-year-old, winning the gold in powerlifting’s 69kg category marked a monumental achievement.
“I made my country proud. I made Africa proud. I made the armed forces of Nigeria proud,” he exclaimed.
Azuegbulam’s achievement resonates deeply with many who have faced similar challenges. His journey embodies the message that disability doesn’t hinder ability, and that’s a powerful message to convey, especially in the world of sports.
In the wake of all he has experienced, Azuegbulam holds no regrets about his decision to serve his nation.
“I got my injury in a place called Maiduguri, fighting Boko Haram. That was my service to the country, and I did what my country wanted me to do as a soldier. It is my duty.”
Africa’s Invictus Games Debut: A Triumph of Determination
The debut of Nigeria at the Invictus Games 2023 was made possible through the determination of Derrick Cobbinah, a veteran of the British Army who serves as an advocate for former British soldiers residing in Ghana.
His unwavering efforts earned recognition from Prince Harry himself, resulting in a 10-member Nigerian team participating in this year’s event.
Cobbinah shared insights into the challenging journey to bring an African nation into the fold, stating, “Two years ago, we started working on bringing in Nigeria as the first African country.”
He continued, “It hadn’t been easy because sports recovery is a new concept in Africa. Using the power of sports to aid wounded and injured servicemen and women in their recovery has never been attempted before.”
“Nigeria was actually the first country that accepted to be part of the Invictus Games,” Cobbinah proudly stated.
Meghan’s Nigerian Roots Shine
Adding an extra layer of star power to the Nigerian team was none other than the Duchess of Sussex, Meghan Markle. Recent genealogy tests revealed that Meghan has Nigerian heritage, with 43% of her roots tracing back to Nigeria.
Meghan was frequently seen supporting the Nigerian team during the event in Dusseldorf, and she even spent time with Derrick Cobbinah. Her presence brought added attention to the cause and the games.
Having witnessed the positive impact of such star power, Cobbinah now aspires to enhance facilities for ex-service personnel across the African continent.
“There have been a lot of challenges because the infrastructure we have in Africa is not very disability-friendly,” Cobbinah explained. “Africa, as a continent, and our military, do not have the infrastructure for these wounded servicemen and women.”
“The Nigerian chief of defense staff has been amazing, making sure we now have something in place to help these guys achieve their dreams,” he added.
The Unyielding Power of Invictus
For Azuegbulam, the Invictus Games represented more than just a gold medal. They were a turning point in his life.
“It facilitated my recovery. It’s made me feel so nice that I stopped minding the injury I had. I conquered. It means a lot to me because I do things that I thought I can’t do again.”
“It’s put a smile on my face. It’ll make me physically fit, mentally and spiritually fit,” he shared with profound gratitude.
Azuegbulam now stands as an inspiration, not only to Nigerians but to all of Africa. His message is clear: the power of sport transcends adversity, and every nation should strive to follow in Nigeria’s footsteps and seek their own Invictus glory.
“Of course, because I’m able to represent my country, not only in powerlifting but many other games. So I would like to meet some other persons from around the country and from Africa,” he concluded, signifying the ripple effect of determination and triumph in the world of sports.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Fokus keyword: Invictus Games 2023 Nigeria
What are the Invictus Games 2023, and why is Nigeria’s participation significant?
The Invictus Games 2023 is an international sporting event for wounded, injured, and sick servicemen and women, founded by Prince Harry in 2014. Nigeria’s participation in this event is particularly significant as it marks the first time an African nation has taken part in the Invictus Games, showcasing the power of sport to aid in the recovery and empowerment of veterans.
Who is Peacemaker Azuegbulam, and what is his remarkable achievement at the Invictus Games?
Peacemaker Azuegbulam is a Nigerian veteran who suffered life-changing injuries while serving his country. At the 2023 Invictus Games, he achieved a remarkable feat by winning a gold medal in powerlifting’s 69kg category, becoming the first African Invictus medalist. His story serves as a testament to the ability to overcome adversity and disability through the power of sports.
How did Derrick Cobbinah contribute to Nigeria’s participation in the Invictus Games?
Derrick Cobbinah, a veteran of the British Army, played a pivotal role in bringing Nigeria into the Invictus Games. He acted as an advocate for former British soldiers living in Ghana and worked tirelessly to make Nigeria the first African country to participate in the Games. His efforts earned recognition from Prince Harry and resulted in a 10-member Nigerian team joining the event.
What role did Meghan Markle, the Duchess of Sussex, play in the Invictus Games 2023?
Meghan Markle, who has Nigerian roots revealed through genealogy tests, actively supported the Nigerian team at the Invictus Games in Dusseldorf. Her presence added star power to the event and drew attention to the cause of wounded and injured servicemen and women. Meghan’s involvement highlighted the importance of the Games and their positive impact.
What challenges did Derrick Cobbinah and his team face in bringing African nations into the Invictus Games?
One significant challenge was the lack of infrastructure in Africa that catered to disabled individuals, making it difficult for wounded servicemen and women to train and participate in the Games. Cobbinah and his team had to work on creating suitable facilities and infrastructure to support athletes, ensuring that they could achieve their dreams of competing in the Invictus Games.
What is the broader message conveyed by Peacemaker Azuegbulam’s victory and the Invictus Games?
Peacemaker Azuegbulam’s victory symbolizes that disability doesn’t hinder ability. The Invictus Games emphasize the unyielding power of sports in facilitating recovery and empowerment among wounded veterans. The broader message is that every nation, especially in Africa, should follow Nigeria’s lead and use sports to inspire and empower veterans, transcending adversity and disability.
More about Fokus keyword: Invictus Games 2023 Nigeria
- BBC News: Invictus Games 2023: Nigeria debut, supported by Meghan, shows ‘power of sport’ to help African veterans
- Invictus Games Official Website
- Prince Harry’s Invictus Games: History and Impact
- Derrick Cobbinah’s Efforts Recognized by Prince Harry
- Meghan Markle’s Nigerian Roots
- Nigeria’s Participation in the Invictus Games 2023