The Untold Story of Forgotten Olympian, Ruth Ogbeifo-Balofin

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By Lawal Bolaji Shardow.

Born in Delta and raised in Kwara State, Ruth Ogbeifo Balofin migrated to the United Kingdom after fulfilling her aspirations as a Renowned weightlifter, notably winning a Silver medal at the Sydney Olympics games in 2000 and becoming the first Nigerian Woman to win a medal in Weightlifting amongst other high profile acheivements.

Having struggled and passed through thick and thin during her career which span over ten (10) years, she did not quench her passion for assisting the less privileged, including orphans and widows, which gave birth to Ruth Ogbeifo Balofin Community Project (ROBCOP). At a point, the project secured collaborations with ten ex-olympians, including Chioma Ajunwa, Mary Onyali, Late Journalist Jide Fashikun and host of other individuals in setting up a Fitness centre in Offa, Kwara State in 2016.

Ruth Ogbeifo-Balofin during her illustrious career

Early 2020, ROBCOP launched a fashion centre to train the less privileged, despite getting little or no attention for her commitments over the years representing Kwara State and Nigeria. Her dedication towards registering her impact in the community she was raised informed her decision to venture out on her own and start a medium scale Weightlifting Centre in June 30th 2021, with the believe that she would succeed if she put in the necessary hardwork in pursuit of the opportunity her adopted state has failed to provide by flexeing her entrepreneurial muscle and not giving up.

Ruth Ogbeifo-Balofin with the deputy governor of Kwara, Mr Kayode Alabi

The Former African Champion operates on the belief that proper training, discipline and attitude can unleash self-esteem and help students and athletes delve into their inner passions. This conviction was echoed by Dr Ayinla Jimoh, Provost of the Kwara State College of Education (KWCOE), the institution where the Gym centre is Located.

The Institution affirmed its pride in playing host to a self-driven and successful client like Ruth, while stating that it was a flattering experience to have the privilege to provide what Ruth herself described as a Support System consisting of ongoing assistance, training, knowledge, and the network required to assist and nurture athletes and the college to become successful in Sports.

VIPs at the occasion includes Ex-Olympian, Hameed Adio who commended the one-time record holder in Weightlifting at the All Africa Games for her uncommon gesture despite not receiving the much needed support from the necessary quarters.

During the 2000 Olympic Games, Ruth Ogbeifo Balofin narrowly missed out on the gold medal with few pounds to Columbian Maria Isabella but went on to record Sixty- three (63) gold, four (4) Silver and three (3) bronze medal during her illustrious career.

While Preparing for the 2002 Commonwealth games in London, a dislocated elbow would ultimately shorten her running career, and having received no support from the Federal Government, Ruth nursed the injury with her hard earned money.

Around 2019, in company of Chioma Ajunwa and others, she approached the Kwara state government to provide her a location inside the State Stadium to construct a World class Fitness centre with construction to be financed by ROBCOP and Partners but received no response till date.

Ruth Ogbeifo grew up in Pakata area of Kwara State, Ilorin, where she attended Barakat Community secondary school. She started her career in weightlifting and went on to become top figure in Sports after winning lot of medals for Kwara and Nigeria.

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