The Nigeria Olympic Committee (NOC) will join the Handball family in mourning a top Olympic Coach Ephraim C Chukwuemeka, 82, that led a National Handball team Team to the 1992 Barcelona Games.
A statement signed by Tony Nezianya, the Public Relations Officer of the NOC, said that Coach Chukwuemeka who died on January 2, during a brief ill-health in Isikwuato, Abia State was one the two coaches that led the first-ever national team sport to the Olympic Games.
He alongside his partner, Late Coach Paulinus Chukwu from their days at the Grasshopper’s Handball club of Owerri led the national team to the Barcelona Games.
They had paired to lead the squad that defeated the then-highly-rated Angolan side at the African Championships in Egypt in 1991 to qualify for the Olympic Games, making handball the first team sport to qualify for the Games.
During his illustrious sporting career that spanned more than three decades, he doubled as FIFA Badged Soccer Referee.
A well-known patron of the NOC, Dr LanrecGlover was then the National Chairman of the Handball Association of Nigeria (HAN). And Myself, the spokesman of the Association.
According to Glover the coaches had done consistently well with the popular Grasshoppers and thought they deserved the right to be provided with the opportunity to lead the National squad to the Games.
Before then, no Nigerian team sports had ever made it to the Olympic Games.
Dr Toyin Esther Aluko, the Chaperon of the team to the Barcelona Games, remarked that Coach Chukwuemeka lived a good life. He knew how to take care of himself while donning his golden b red hallmark Golden bracelets.
Coach Chukwuemeka will be buried on February 10, at his ancestral home, Amiyi, Obilohia Isikwuato, Abia State according to his son in Law, Christian Ihememegbulam.