Quarter miler Omolara Ogunmakinju is the latest golden girl of Nigerian athletics following her heroics at the just-ended African Games in Ghana.

In relay events in Africa, Nigeria stands tall as the undisputed number one country.

And expectedly, sports-loving Nigerians globally and in neighbouring West African country, Ghana, were anxiously waiting to celebrate another golden finish as Team Nigeria’s 4x400m mixed relay team, comprising Emmanuel Ojeli, Patience Okon-George, Sikiru Adeyemi and Ogunmakinju, was about to compete in the final of their event in Accra penultimate Tuesday.

However, none of the country’s teeming sports lovers envisaged what was to happen during the race.

To their dismay, Ojeli, Okon-George and Adeyemi trailed Botswana for the first three baton exchanges until Ogunmakinju received it.

It seemed all but lost as Ogunmakinju found herself trailing Botswana’s  Kamberuka Obakeng by 15 metres in the last leg of the race!

It was the race of her life and Ogunmakinju knew it.

With 30m left and still trailing Obakeng, she delivered a masterclass, erasing the 15-metre deficit and overtaking Obakeng in the final 30 metres to power Team Nigeria to a gold medal finish.

Her incredible surge secured Nigeria the gold medal in a blistering time of 3:13.26 and Botswana, despite setting a new national record of 3:13.99, had to settle for silver.

The pocket of Nigerian fans at the University of Ghana Sports Stadium went wild with rapturous celebrations. A race of that magnitude had never been ran on the glittering blue tracks of the Accra stadium.

Ogunmakinju had turned silver to gold for Nigeria and for some, this was indeed the ‘Miracle of Accra’!

The Nigerian quartet’s 3:13.26 finish earned them a new African record, erasing the earlier record of 3:13.60, also set by Nigeria in the semi-final of the mixed relays at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.

“I’m very happy. And I give all glory to God for making the hard work pay for me because I was ready for this game, and it’s really paid off,” an overjoyed Ogunmakinju said after the historic race.

“It’s teamwork, so an individual has to do his or her best.

“So, I did my best, and I just kept pushing to the finish line and all glory be to God, I pushed through.”

Ironically, Ogunmakinju is making a return to athletics after the Akure-born 400m specialist took a break from the tracks to get married, start her family and attend to the rigorous task of motherhood.

After giving birth to two kids, a boy and girl, she returned to athletics following a five-year break.

“We got married in 2015 and we both agreed to take a break after the 2016 Olympics in Brazil, which we did. God answered us by giving us our first child in 2018 and the second child in 2020. We resumed training in 2021 and I made the Nigerian team in 2023,” Ogunmakinju told .

She first broke into the limelight at just 19, when she won a gold medal with Nigeria’s women 4x400m relay quartet at the African Championships in Porto Novo, Benin Republic in 2012. That year, she also made her debut at the Olympic Games in London.

Four years later, she again helped the relay team to a silver medal finish at the African Championships in Durban, South Africa.

Amid rave reviews of a bright future in the quarter mile, the burgeoning athlete suddenly quit the sport for family life.

Making a return wasn’t an easy task though, admits the athlete, who turns 31 May 25.

“It wasn’t easy to come back after childbirth, burn fat.and start training,” she told at the 2022 National Sports Festival, where she represented Rivers State in the relays.

“I had to leave the tracks and concentrate on my new home and take the opportunity to give birth to my beautiful kids. I am grateful to God and also my husband for staying by me.

“I missed track a lot and I missed my running mates. Now I have another set of people, it’s like being in another class and I’m loving it, it’s fun.”

She didn’t rush her return to sports but she gradually worked her way back to reckoning, finishing second at last year’s women’s 400m final at the National Championships.

“We’ve been working so hard just to meet up and glory be to God from one competition to the other, I’ve been cutting down the time and with God here we are,” she told after last year’s championships.

It could be strenuous returning to sports after taking time off but Ogunmakinju said it was a decision she took after careful consideration and the backing of her husband.

“After I gave birth to my second baby, I said, ‘what next? Should I be a coach, should I go for something else or what? So, I told myself, ‘I can do it again, just give it a try.’ And from there I started jogging, trying to burn the fat. And glory be to God, as we were making progress I was performing better and you see that I can still do it. That’s how we made it through.”

Her husband, Adeleye Ogunmakinju, a former athlete himself, played a major role in Ogunmakinju’s second coming. He was in Ghana to watch his wife perform wonders on the tracks last Tuesday.

“Apart from my office work, I have been assisting coach Ogogo Godwin in training my wife before she travelled to America,” Adeleye told

And he was all cheers watching his wife achieve the unthinkable in Accra last week.

“As a husband to the African champion, there is nothing more fulfilling than seeing my wife and the mother of our lovely kids maximising her full potential and being the best in what she knows how to do best. Indeed it’s a thing of joy.  “Honestly, however it went, I’ll still be very proud of her, knowing the sacrifices she made, especially after the break she took to start our family. She really worked hard, put in a lot of efforts to get back in shape and was relentless.

“So, even if she didn’t win the race, I would still be very proud of her because I know the efforts she put into it.”

Several female athletes have found it difficult balancing motherhood and sports but the quarter miler has been able to manage both to maximum effect, like a seamless baton exchange on the tracks.

So, how did Ogunmakinju do it?

“Everything is scheduled, you have to schedule your work; wake up earlier and do the things you need to do at the right time and when you are back from the track, you face your family. When you are on the track you face it. You rest the little time you have to rest.”

Ahead of the trip to Ghana, Ogunmakinju was in blistering form for Harding University, Arkansas, where she’s currently studying.

Just days to the continental sports fiesta, the Harding freshman, a graduate of Human Kinetics from the Adekunle Ajasin University, Akungba-Akoko, Ondo State, became the first Lady Bison ever to earn an All-America honours in the indoor 400m with a second-place finish at the NCAA Division II Indoor National Championships at the Robert W. Plaster Center in Pittsburgh.

Ogunmakinju broke her own school record in the 400m prelims with a time of 52.77s. In the final, she crossed the tape second in 52.85s.

Earlier in January, while making her Harding debut, she won her event in a Harding record 54.74s, which ranks third this season in Division II.

Ogunmakinju also inspired Harding’s 4x400m relay team to win with a provisional and school record time of 3:49.25, breaking the previous school record of 3:52.02 set in 2022.

If there was a book on wonders on the tracks, Ogunmakinju’s heroics in Accra will certainly take centre stage, but the strong-willed woman isn’t done yet.

For her, impossibility is nothing.

“With God all things are possible, nothing’s impossible, once we can work as a team, definitely we’ll meet the standard.

“I’m going to keep pushing till I reach the finish line,” she said.