Evanston Township High School (ETHS) is no stranger to producing elite, college-level athletes. However, thanks to 2012 graduate Margaret Bamgbose, ETHS will be sending its third girls track graduate all the way to the Olympics: Margaret will represent Nigeria in Rio de Janeiro this coming August.
As a dual citizen of the U.S. and Nigeria, Margaret had the option of pursuing either country’s Olympic team. She explained that she chose Nigeria because, “My parents are from there and they grew up there, so I thought it would be cool to represent [Nigeria]. My chances were also better for competing there, since the U.S. has one of the best track teams in the world. Going into something like the Olympics you want to be fresh– you don’t want to run yourself into the ground.”
Margaret was named to the team after competing in the 2016 All Nigeria Athletics Championships and Warri Relays which took place on July 8 and 9 in Sapele, Nigeria. Among the 40-plus athletes from Europe and America alone that participated, Margaret placed third in the 400-meter (52.27 seconds) and first in the 4x400-meter relay (3:30.17). She will be racing in both events in Rio.
A key member of the ETHS Track & Field squad, Margaret won first place in the 300-meter hurdles, second place in the 200-meter dash, and fourth place in the 100-meter hurdles– all just during her senior year. She was also named all-conference her sophomore and senior year, as well as team MVP.
“I started running track my freshman year of high school,” Margaret said. “I was actually recruited for the 300-meter hurdles, but moved to the 400-meter hurdles after qualifying for nationals [in that event]. That was sort of the starting factor.”
In just her freshman year at the University of Notre Dame, she garnered enough titles for some athletes’ entire college careers: She placed second in the 400-meter and first in both the 4x400-meter relay and 4x100-meter relay at the Big East Outdoor Championships, as well as third in the 400-meter and first in the 4x400-meter relay in the Big East Indoor Championships, to name a few.
The next three years at Notre Dame continued to yield success after success. Some of Margaret’s college highlights listed on the school’s Track & Field website include being an eight-time USTFCCCA (U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association) All-American; 2015 ACC Indoor 400 Meter Champion; 2014 & 2015 ACC Outdoor 4x400-meter Relay Champion; 2013, 2014, and 2015 NCAA Outdoor Championships qualifier; and member of the 2015 First Team All-ACC in the indoor 400-meter event, outdoor 400-meter event, and outdoor 4x400-meter relay.
While her athletic achievements are impossible to ignore, Margaret also exceled in school and studied Information Technology Management at Notre Dame’s Mendoza College of Business. She was named to the 2015 USTFCCCA All-Academic Track & Field Team and the 2015 All-ACC Academic Indoor Track & Field Team, and was selected as a 2013 Big East Academic All-Star.
Margaret currently lives in South Bend, Indiana, and will start her job at Whirlpool in Michigan after returning from Rio. She said that, in terms of continuing her post-college track career, she will “see how the rest of the summer plays out” and decide whether to resume her training or not.
“I’m just excited to even be there and have the experience,” Margaret said when asked about what she was looking forward to most in Rio. “I’ll be among the best athletes in the world. It’s very exciting, to be around so much talent.”
The 2016 Olympics will begin August 5. Support Margaret and her family by donating to her “Go Fund Me” campaign at gofundme.com/27rsvas and help them to reach their goal of $15,000.