A 13-year-old Nigerian girl is making waves in the world of golf. Iyeneobong Essien has competed in three continents, earned 17 medals participating in some of the world’s most renowned golf tournaments, and has her eyes set on her next feat Reuters reported.
The golfer—who is ranked No. 1 in her country’s under-18 category—recently competed in the 2019 Nigeria Ladies Golf Open Championship. Essien—the only teen who participated in the competition—came in 10th place. She has been collecting medals since she started playing the sport at the age of five. She says the solo aspect of the golf is what drives her. “In this game you compete against yourself and not other players, which is very exciting,” she told the news outlet. “You are the one playing so you cannot blame your caddy or anyone for the mistake you made.”
Essien hopes to take her talents to the 2022 Summer Youth Olympics and make history by earning the first gold medal in golf for Nigeria. Until the time comes her father, Eyo Essien, says she will continue to perfect her craft. “She still has some room for growth and I think as I said by the age of 15 she will be ripe, you know, to take the golf world by storm,” he said in a statement. For the teenager, education is just as important as golf. She wants to study robotics and artificial intelligence and hopes that within the next decade she’ll be a professional golfer with a degree.
Essien’s rise comes at a time where there is a major need for diversity in golf. According to The Philadelphia Tribune, North Carolina native Mariah Stackhouse is the only Black woman golfer with full status on the LPGA Tour. She says she wants to break barriers and open doors for Black girls who are following in her footsteps. “I always say that representation is important,” said Stackhouse. “They get there. They see me. I always think that there’s an element of inspiration. It’s a gift to be in that position and to inspire. I’m happy to be that for younger girls because I had that for myself.”