Mary Onyali-Omagbemi

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Mary Onyali-Omagbemi

Nkemdilim “Mary” Onyali-Omagbemi (born 3 February 1968) is a Nigerian former sprinter, she was a 5x Olympian 1988 - 2004. She had won the bronze medal in the 4 × 100 m relay at the 1992 Olympic Games and in the 200 m at the 1996 Olympic Games. She also won the 1994 Commonwealth Games 100 metres title. Mary Onyali-Omagbemi currently serves as the Special Adviser (Technical) to the Director General of the National Sports Commission in Nigeria.



  • When other nations are planning to win, we are praying. God hears our prayers but you have to help yourselves too.
    • [1]
    • Nigeria’s method of planning for major competitions.


  • The table kind of turned on me, instead of me being managed when I was an athlete, now I have to manage people.
    • [2]
    • Challenges after retirement.
  • There can only be one Michael Jordan, there can only be one Michael Jackson and there can only be one Mary Onyali.
    • [3]
    • Speaking on if any athlete has done enough on the tracks to dethrone her since she retired.
  • Talents are usually found in communities and schools. If kids are not identified early, it would be difficult to train them when they are older.
    • [4]
    • Interface between sports and education.
  • Hard work, discipline, determination and dedication. You have to learn what you do and do well in what you do.
    • [5]
    • Personal qualities that helped her break many records during her active days in sports.
  • Whenever I lose, I take it as a learning curve; I don’t beat myself over it.
    • [6]
    • Feelings whenever she loses a race.


  • Sport has always being seen as a man’s domain. It was a breakthrough period for women in sports and I am proud to say that I am one of the leading women that championed the breakthrough which led to the recognition of women in sport, both in Nigeria and Africa.
    • [7]
    • Coping at a time the sports industry was really dominated by men.
  • If I had got married to someone who was not sport-inclined, a typical African who would want you to have a regular job or stay at home as a mother; it would have been a disaster.
    • [8]
    • Speaking on her marriage.
  • Wherever they are, despite the situation, they should not lose hope and must keep training.
    • [9]
    • Advising home-based athletes.
  • Till today, the picture and video are still with the IOC and still at the museum. It shows the true picture of Olympics. We didn’t win the gold or the silver but bronze, however it was a golden bronze. To the IOC it depicts what the Olympics is all about.
    • [10]
    • Recalling the popular Golden Bronze she and others won during the 1992 Olympics Games at Barcelona.
  • I had not practised or used the starting block before. I was using it in Egypt for the first time. I did not know the blocks had sensors that could detect sensitive reactions, So, I triggered the block before the shot. I was disqualified for misusing it.
    • [11]
    • Recalling her worst experience as an athlete.
  • Part of the contract stipulated that you must have a minimum of 2.5 GPA or you would be kicked out. A lot of us were from financially poor background. So, it would be silly to lose such an opportunity.
    • [12]
    • Combining International athletics with academics.
  • Do not focus entirely on sport, because there will be a day when your body will fail you. When that day comes, and you do not have the educational background to face the real life after sport, something will fall off you.
    • [13]
    • Admonishing budding young athletes.
  • Personally I believe our female athletes are much better than the males because we are naturally good listeners, attentive, focused and a little more disciplined than the male athletes. The male athletes on the other hand get distracted easily than the females just like mothers will be very attentive to the care and needs of her children and I think that’s why we women bring in anything we do not just sports but in anything we find ourselves.
    • [14]
    • Female athletes tend to do better than male athletes.
  • There is nothing we can do specially for the male athletes to do better it’s just the way it is. The competition in the male category is stiffer. They do their things with more energy, power, ego etc so they are their own monsters creating their own competition or sports making it more stiffer and competitive. It is every where in the world , it’s a general thing.
    • [15]
    • Sporting competitions in the male category.

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