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Francis Obikwelu

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Title: Francis Obikwelu  
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Subject: 1996 World Junior Championships in Athletics – Men's 100 metres, 1996 World Junior Championships in Athletics – Men's 200 metres, Athletics at the 2000 Summer Olympics – Men's 200 metres, 2006 European Athletics Championships, 2011 European Athletics Indoor Championships
Collection: 1978 Births, Athletes (Track and Field) at the 1996 Summer Olympics, Athletes (Track and Field) at the 2000 Summer Olympics, Athletes (Track and Field) at the 2004 Summer Olympics, Athletes (Track and Field) at the 2008 Summer Olympics, European Athletics Championships Medalists, Igbo Sportspeople, Living People, Male Sprinters, Medalists at the 2004 Summer Olympics, Nigerian Male Athletes, Nigerian Sprinters, Olympic Athletes of Nigeria, Olympic Athletes of Portugal, Olympic Medalists in Athletics (Track and Field), Olympic Silver Medalists for Portugal, People from Onitsha, Portuguese Athletes, Portuguese Male Athletes, Portuguese People of African Descent, Portuguese Sprinters, World Championships in Athletics Athletes for Nigeria, World Championships in Athletics Athletes for Portugal, World Championships in Athletics Medalists
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Francis Obikwelu

Francis Obikwelu
Obikwelu in 2011
Personal information
Full name Francis Obiorah Obikwelu
Nationality Portuguese
Born (1978-11-22) 22 November 1978
Onitsha, Nigeria
Height 1.95 m (6 ft 5 in)
Sport Running
Event(s) 100 metres, 200 metres

Francis Obiorah Obikwelu GCIH (born 22 November 1978) is a Portuguese sprinter specialized in 100 metres and 200 metres. He obtained Portuguese citizenship in 2001.


  • Biography 1
  • From association football to athletics 2
  • From Nigeria to Portugal 3
  • Athens 2004 4
  • Statistics 5
    • Personal bests 5.1
    • Awards and honours 5.2
      • Olympic Games 5.2.1
      • World Championships 5.2.2
    • World Indoor Championships 5.3
      • European Championships 5.3.1
      • Golden League 5.3.2
      • Grand Prix 5.3.3
      • Grand Prix Final 5.3.4
      • Super Grand Prix 5.3.5
    • Orders 5.4
  • References 6
  • External links 7


Born in Onitsha, Obikwelu holds the record for the fastest time in the 100 m set by a European competitor with a time of 9.86 seconds.[1] He finished second in the 100 m at the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens, Greece, the first medal ever in athletics sprinting events for Portugal. He won 100 m and 200 m in 2006 at the European Championships in Athletics and became the first athlete to win both 100 m and 200 m in the same European Championship since 1978. Kim Gevaert also succeeded in this double victory at the same Championship.

Obikwelu was voted Waterford Crystal European Male Athlete of the Year for 2006 by the European Athletic Association, in an internet poll open to member federations, media and the general public.[2]

Obikwelu announced his retirement from competitive athletics after failing to qualify for the 100 m finals in the 2008 Beijing Olympics, but retracted his statement, agreeing to honour the last year of his contract with his track club.[3] Obikwelu won the 100 m gold medal at the 2009 Lusophony Games.[4]

From association football to athletics

At the age of 14, one of Obikwelu's football coaches in Nigeria noticed him and suggested he try out athletics. After two years he was representing Nigeria in the 1994 African Junior Championships and won the silver medal in the 400 metres.[5]

From Nigeria to Portugal

He based himself in Lisbon, Portugal, as a 16-year-old, after competing at the 1994 World Junior Championships. After being rejected by both Sport Lisboa e Benfica and Sporting Clube de Portugal, he worked for a while as a construction worker in the Algarve. He decided to learn Portuguese, and his teacher put him in contact with Belenenses, where he restarted practising. While living in Portugal, Francis was adopted by a lady who he now proudly refers to as his "mother".

He then made a decision to run for Portugal. The news was broken in July 2000 by Nigerian sprinter Mercy Nku, who like Obikwelu is based in Lisbon. She said Obikwelu took the decision because of neglect by Nigerian sports officials when he was injured while representing Nigeria in Sydney, Australia. "He had to go to Canada to undergo an operation on his knee spending his own money." He became a Portuguese citizen in October 2001.

Both his athletics achievements, his life story and his personality made him a popular figure in his adoptive country, where he is nicknamed Chico, the short form of the Portuguese version of his first name.

He currently competes for Sporting Clube de Portugal.

Athens 2004

In the qualifiers he was one of the most impressive runners, managing two times under ten seconds (beating the Portuguese record). In the final he recovered from a non-medal position in the second half of the race to reach Silver, just one hundredth of a second behind Justin Gatlin and one hundredth ahead of Maurice Greene, managing to beat the European record set by Linford Christie in 1993. He finished fifth in the 200m.


As of September 9, 2008

Personal bests

Event Time (seconds) Venue Date
50 metres 5.79 Liévin, France 28 February 2004
60 metres 6.53 Paris, France 5 March 2011
100 metres 9.86 Athens, Greece 22 August 2004
200 metres 19.84 Seville, Spain 25 August 1999
400 metres 46.29 Unknown 3 June 1998
  • All information from IAAF Profile[6]

Awards and honours

Olympic Games

2nd 100 m, 2004 Athens, GRE 9.86
5th 200 m, 2004 Athens, GRE 20.14

World Championships

2nd 4 x 100 m Relay 1997 Athens, GRE 38.07
3rd 200 m 1999 Seville, ESP 20.11

World Indoor Championships

3rd 200 m 1997 Paris, FRA 21.10
1st 60 m 2011 Paris, FRA 6.53

European Championships

1st 100 m 2002 Munich, GER
2nd 200 m 2002 Munich, GER
1st 100 m 2006 Goteborg, SWE 9.99
1st 200 m 2006 Goteborg, SWE 20.01

Golden League

1st 100 m 2004 Saint-Denis, FRA 10.06
1st 200 m 2004 Saint-Denis, FRA 20.12
1st 100 m 2001 Berlin, GER 9.98
2nd 100 m 2002 Brussels, BEL 10.01
3rd 200 m 2004 Zurich, SUI 20.36
3rd 200 m 2004 Bergen, NOR 20.46
1st 100 m 2008 Madrid. ESP 10.04

Grand Prix

1st 100 m 2002 Lausanne, SUI 10.09
3rd 200 m 2001 Athens, GRE 20.59
3rd 200 m 2001 Nice, FRA 20.41

Grand Prix Final

3rd 200 m 2001 Melbourne, AUS 20.52
5th 100 m 2002 Saint-Denis, FRA 10.03

Super Grand Prix

1st 200 m 2004 Madrid, ESP 20.29
2nd 100 m 2004 Lausanne, SUI 10.02
2nd 200 m 2003 Madrid, ESP 20.59

Additionally, Obikwelu was the 1996 world junior champion over 100 m and 200 m.



  1. ^ "100 Metres All Time".  
  2. ^ "Waterford Crystal European Male Athlete of the Year 2006".  
  3. ^ Valiente, Emeterio (2009-07-09). Obikwelu shines in Salamanca. IAAF. Retrieved on 2009-07-23.
  4. ^ Fernandes, António Manuel (2009-07-14). Évora, another title in Lisbon. IAAF. Retrieved on 2009-07-23.
  5. ^ The Star
  6. ^ "Obikwelu, Francis biography".  
  7. ^ "Nelson Évora condecorado por Cavaco Silva" [Nelson Évora decorated by Cavaco Silva] (in Portuguese).  

External links

  • Francis Obikwelu profile at IAAF
Preceded by
Virgilijus Alekna
Men's European Athlete of the Year
Succeeded by
Tero Pitkämäki
Preceded by
José Veras
Portuguese Sportsman of the Year
Succeeded by
Nelson Évora
Sporting positions
Preceded by
Ato Boldon
Men's 200 m Best Year Performance
Succeeded by
Michael Johnson
Preceded by
Linford Christie
European Record Holder Men's 100 m
22 August 2004 – present
(shared with Jimmy Vicaut from 4 July 2015)
Succeeded by
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