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SYDNEY 2000 / SUMMER OLYMPIC GAMES

Nigerian's Nightmare Becomes Bittersweet

September 28, 2000|RANDY HARVEY | TIMES ASSISTANT SPORTS EDITOR

SYDNEY, Australia — Glory Alozie is flying home to Nigeria today. There will be a casket on the plane, carrying the body of her fiance.

"They wanted to send his body home when he was killed," said Mary Onyali, one of Alozie's teammates on the Nigerian track and field team.

"But Glory said no. She said they had planned to fly home together and she was going to make sure they did."

Alozie's fiance, Hyginus Anayo Anugo, finished sixth in the 400 meters in Nigeria's Olympic trials. He came here as a relay alternate, and although he had been informed that he wouldn't be needed by the team, he stayed to be with Alozie after she arrived.

On Sept. 7, Anugo, 22, was hit by a car while crossing a street in one of the city's southwestern suburbs and killed.

Alozie, 22, was at a meet in Yokohama, Japan, at the time. She said that she considered withdrawing from the Olympics. But she decided to run, and Wednesday night she finished second in the 100-meter hurdles.

She kissed her silver medal on the victory stand and looked toward the sky over the Olympic Stadium.

"This medal means so much to me," she said. "When [the accident] happened, I thought of many things. I thought of not running. But then I was encouraged by God."

Alozie's coach, Rafael Blanquer, said that she was so depressed upon arriving here that she didn't eat for several days. He reported that she lost 12 pounds. When she did start eating again, he said he had to spoon-feed her.

"She was really down for four or five days," Onyali said. "They were inseparable, two of a kind. Everybody loved them. They were such giving, Christian people."

A Sydney newspaper reported that the Nigerian Olympic Committee would not pay for the body to be returned home because Anugo was not an official member of the Olympic team.

But Julia Garcia, Alozie's Spanish-based agent, denied that, saying that Nigerian officials had assured her that they would be responsible for all arrangements.

Alozie, 22, met Garcia at the 1997 world junior championships in Sydney and was recruited the following summer to compete for a club in Valencia.

Anugo also competed for the club, which includes several Nigerians. Garcia said that Alozie, a silver medalist in the high hurdles in last summer's World Championships, is the most successful of the athletes and shares her earnings with her teammates.

Alozie said that she will cope with the loss of her fiance after the Games as she did during the Games.

"I know God saw me through this difficult time," she said, "and God will see me through difficult times in the future."

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