Nengiye Wilcox: The Bonny Island Marathon and the Pursuit for International Stage.

Nengiye Wilcox an up and coming athlete who finished as the indigenous Winner of the 2019 Bonny Island Marathon and was sponsored to lead the Bonny Flag at the renown Access Bank Lagos City Marathon 2020.
In a telephone interview by the with the Bonny Island Magazine, Nengiye, winner in the Indigenous Category of the Bonny Island Marathon, he shared about himself, his aspirations and his ambition for the world stage.

Tell us about yourself, family background and your interest in sports.

My name is Nengiye Wilcox, a native of Bonny Kingdom. I come from a family of 6. A greater percentage of my family indulge in sports. Either as fanatics or practioners. So I easily naturalised to be idea of pursuing a career in sports and physical activities.

You had a point where you thought about starting, amongst various sports, why Marathon career? What has been your experience?

I've been loving sports as you now know. Participating in series of amateur contests as a child and I've had little successes those times. But you see running? I just have a thing for it and hence, when I first got the opportunity to run for career with BIM, it was a whole new feeling. BIM firstly was an opportunity, a very big privilege I must say. The platform exposed me to some pro-practices and how I can better perceive a career professionally.

I started first with the Bonny Island Marathon in 2018 and in 2019 respectively. In 2020 I ran in Access Bank Lagos city Marathon as I was sponsored by the organizers of BIM in fulfillment to me for emerging 1st place and also an Indigenous Winner. That day I can't forget.

So far, I've been able to add BIM, and the Lagos City Marathon to my portfolio. With all the experiences, challenges and new things I'm learning in line with building a professional career in running, I'm looking forward to work on my capacity. A lot of things I did not know before now.

Bonny Island Marathon 2018 was your first, and then 2019 you came and finished First Runner up. What did you do differently?

It was challenging really. Owing to the fact that, in our region we don't have access to a lot of facilities that are for individuals considering a sporting career. So I had to train locally. And you know, you'll always have shortcomings because you are not using the best practices and standard equipments to work. So I had to discipline myself, stay on course and follow my routines. I actually observed some significant level of progress I made.

The Marathon day always has a different feel. It was slightly challenging because we had to share the road with motorists. So you'll have to run with high consciousness on safety. Thank God for the BONNY Island Marathon team for putting safety measures in place.

What do you think about the Access Bank Lagos City Marathon?

It was a good experience for the first time on the Marathon, and again having to contest with a greater percentage of professionals for starter like me. Though the international runners and professionals were given preference in some way and above, I was basically paying attention to the processes, tactics and patterns. Nothing is impossible, but I think I had a very slim chance. So I needed to focus on learning and experiencing than running to compete.

As an individual, taking this journey, we're sure they're a range of factors, or considerations behind pushing you. What has been your drive and where do you see yourself in this career path?

Taking part in the BONNY Island Marathon opened me to the opportunity to even be at the Lagos City Marathon. It was also a threshold point that boasted my confidence. Participating in the Lagos Marathon for instance, learning it has not been won by a Nigerian, it struck me that I have a long way to go.
So now, it's not just about me. I want to build a professional career, that will not only be profitable but to make history. One of those is to win the the Bonny Island Marathon, and subsequently push to win the Lagos City Marathon.

Where are you going from here?

Personally, I've been thinking about that question a lot. Looking at the basics, what I need to do, the sacrifices I need to make, training, facilities and a range of other stuffs. It's a long journey. But I'm willing and God willing, capable of taking the journey.

Looking at existing icons like Eliud kipchoge from Kenya, what he do. I'm going to do more trainings, and make sure I push to meet requirements as I progress. Most importantly, I'll keep competing.

Currently, I'm seeking for a management team, and hoping to engage a professional coach as I continue to build my capacity because I think it is very important for my career.

Any last words?

Yes. So far, I have had a host of challenging encounters. But learning not to give up has helped me to keep going. I'm also using this medium to appeal for support for our homegrown initiatives like the Bonny Island Marathon and a host of others. And we hope that facilities that support people intending to begin a career can be made available and accessible. Some of us really can't do entrepreneurship, or pursue jobs, and violence and crime is not an option. But we find joy and fulfillment running, and doing sports. We just need an enabling environment.