Hammer thrower, former University of Cincinnati athlete and Olympian, Annette Echikunwoke out of Tokyo games

Joe Harrington
Cincinnati Enquirer
Hammer thrower Annette Echikunwoke was among four University of Cincinnati women to earn All-America honors at the track and field NCAA Outdoor Championships.

Former University of Cincinnati track and field athlete Annette Echikunwoke, who competes in the hammer throw, will not be able to participate in the Tokyo Olympics after an error in testing. 

Echikunwoke, from Pickerington North, is a member of the African Federation of Nigeria's Olympic team. According to International Olympic Committee, Nigeria's negligence in testing has made Echikunwoke ineligible. 

"On my 25th birthday, I was officially informed that I cannot compete at the Tokyo 2020ne Olympics due to the negligence of the federation I was set to compete for," Echikunwoke wrote on her Instagram page.

"I can’t even begin to explain how heartbroken I am. It honestly feels like a fever dream. To think of all the hours of throwing sessions, hundreds of hard lifts, all the moments when my body aches in pain and reminding myself “it’ll be worth it”, just to keep pushing on, sacrificing time with loved ones…and all I’m left with is this sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach. This has been the most mentally and emotionally exhausting time of my life . . .

"In all of this, I’m still trusting Him who brought me to this point in the first place. I don’t understand divinely why this happened, but I do know all things work for the good of those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. I know God has called me to do what I’m doing, not just for me, but for the glory of His Kingdom."

Susan Seaton, the University of Cincinnati’s head track and field coach who trained Echikunwoke for years, said she is disspointed in the outcome. 

“I am deeply disappointed and saddened to see all of these athletes deprived of their opportunity to shine at the biggest stage of their sport,” Seaton shared. “I hope this tragic event will finally effect change within the AFN and the Nigerian Olympic Committee, whose responsibility it is to have the athletes entered in appropriate testing protocols. Annette is and will remain one of the top women’s hammer throwers in the world and I am extremely proud of her and all she has accomplished.”

Seaton trained Echikunwoke through an NCAA Championship in 2017 where she became UC’s first black NCAA champion in track and field and weight throwing.