Clement Chukwu Day
City planner honored after receiving Olympic gold medal
Pickerington Mayor Lee Gray officially proclaimed Aug. 21, 2013, as "Clement Chukwu Day" in honor of the Pickerington city planner who recently returned from Nigeria with a special piece of hardware, an Olympic gold medal.
Chukwu was a member of the 1,600-meter relay team that won a silver medal for Nigeria in the 2000 Summer Olympic Games in Sydney, Australia.
The original gold medal winner, the United States relay team, ultimately was stripped of the gold after being disqualified because of the use of performance enhancing substances.
That paved the way for Chukwu and his fellow Nigerian teammates being awarded the gold, 13 years after the Sydney games.
"Chukwu flew to his native Nigeria to receive the medal and was honored by the Nigerian president and decorated by Nigeria's representative to the International Olympic Committee," Gray said at the Aug. 20 Pickerington City Council meeting.
Being honored by Pickerington came as a surprise to Chukwu, who attended the city council meeting at the behest of City Development Director Joe Henderson under the guise of official business. Chukwu's wife, mother and son were also present at the ceremony.
"I'm really terrible at speeches," Chukwu said.
"Joe, thanks for hiding this from me. To see my family here, oh my goodness!
"This is awesome, Chukwu said. "I want to thank the city and thank Joe, he's been a really good mentor to have."
Chukwu said he traveled to Nigeria "on short notice" in July to receive his gold medal, but got delayed because of governmental scheduling conflicts. A planned one-week trip to retrieve the medal turned into two weeks.
"Unfortunately, when I got to Nigeria I got stuck," he said.
"I appreciate this, this is a surprise to me. I'm overwhelmed with joy," Chukwu told city officials, who proceeded to give him a standing ovation.
Chukwu had an outstanding track and field career at Eastern Michigan University and was inducted into the school's Hall of Fame. He was the 1999 NCAA Men's champion in the 400 meter.
Gray also commended Chukwu for volunteering his time with Pickerington student-athletes "by sharing his track and field knowledge."
Chukwu joined Pickerington's planning and zoning team in June 2012. He previously was employed as an associate city planner for the city of Toledo for 10 years.
His current responsibilities include reviewing nonresidential design standards, approving zoning certificate applications, and conducting field investigations.
He also helps guide businesses through the zoning application process.
"Clement's professional talents have been a welcome addition to the city of Pickerington and it gives me great honor to recognize his outstanding Olympic achievement," Gray said.