Glory Alozie says simply: "What happened in Sydney is in the past." Not that the diminutive bundle of inspiration will ever forget her heartbreaking experience at the 2000 Olympics.
She travelled there with her former fiancé, Hyginus Anugo, a fellow member of the Nigerian track-and-field squad. She was favourite for the women's high hurdles; he was a contender for a place in Nigeria's 4 x 400m relay team.
The couple were from the same village, near Lagos, and from the same tribe, the Ibo. They had moved to Valencia in 1997 to train together towards the Sydney Games. They were to have been married in January 2001.
They might still have done so had Anugo left Australia, as he had initially planned, after failing to make the final cut for the relay team. He attended Nigeria's pre-Olympic training camp in Adelaide but, as the seventh fastest of eight 400m runners, was dropped from the squad when the decision was made to take just six men for the relay.
Not wishing to miss his fiancée's big shot at Olympic glory, while Alozie headed off to Yokohama for a final competitive test before the Games Anugo made his way to Sydney and found accommodation in the halls of residence at Southern Cross College. A devout Christian, like Alozie, he was returning from evening prayers eight days before the opening ceremony when a bus slowed to let him cross a busy road outside a convenience store. Anugo was waving his thanks to the driver when he was hit by a car travelling in the opposite direction. He was killed instantly.
Alozie was still in Japan at the time. She was told her fiancé had been badly injured by a car but not that the 22-year-old love of her life had been killed. The tragic news was broken by her team-mates when she arrived at Kingsford Smith Airport in Sydney. They wanted to be on hand to console her.
For four days Alozie was inconsolable in her room in the Olympic Village. She couldn't eat. She couldn't sleep. She wanted to go back to Spain. Ultimately, the words of Damishi Sango, Nigeria's Minister for Sport, persuaded her to stay and compete. "Go and win the gold medal for Hyginus," he told her. "It is what he would have wanted."
In the final, two weeks later, Alozie had the gold in her sights until the last of the 10 2ft 9in hurdles. Then she was overtaken by Olga Shishigina of Kazakhstan and finished in the silver-medal position. It was a truly staggering achievement. Alozie had become so frail from loss of appetite she had been spoon-fed by her Spanish coach, Rafael Blanque. She had lost 13lb. From somewhere, the 5ft 1in Alozie summoned the strength to come within 0.03 of a second of Olympic gold.
Clutching her silver in the tunnel of Stadium Australia, she choked back tears and said: "I dedicate this medal to my fiancé. I wish he was here to see it. I am grateful to God for giving me the strength to see me through."
"What happened in Sydney is gone," she said. "It's in the past. It was a very difficult time - so very, very difficult. I don't even like remembering it.
Story adapted from an original article by Simon Turnbull published in The Independent.
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