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Guinness World Record: Chess champion returns home to Lagos

Nigeria's Tunde Onakoya, right, is welcomed by chess fans upon arrival at the Murtala Muhammed airport in Lagos, Nigeria. 24/04/2024   -  
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Sunday Alamba/Copyright 2024 The AP. All rights reserved


Nigerian chess champion Tunde Onakoya returned home to Lagos on Wednesday to a hero's welcome.

Onayoka, who set a world record for the longest chess marathon last week in New York City, arrived in  Murtala Muhammed airport in Lagos on Wednesday.

The 29-year-old raised $150,000 for children's education across Africa through the record attempt. 

“I feel really proud of this moment, because I get to share it with so many people," he said.

A new record

He had set out to play the royal game for 58 hours but continued until he reached 60 hours at about 12:40 a.m. Saturday, surpassing the current chess marathon record of 56 hours, 9 minutes and 37 seconds, achieved in 2018 by Norwegians Hallvard Haug Flatebø and Sjur Ferkingstad.

The Guinness World Records has yet to confirm the record, which can sometimes take weeks.

Onakoya played against Shawn Martinez, an American chess champion, in line with Guinness World Record guidelines that any attempt to break the record must be made by two players who would play continuously for the entire duration.

A charitable goal

The Nigerian champion's parents and several of his supporters greeted him enthusiastically at the airport, where he was escorted by armed guards.

One of Onakoya’s protégés was there to greet him, too.

Ayomide Ojo Emmanuel said he was homeless before Onakoya met him. 

“He found me under the bridge in Osodi, where I was homeless," the 20-year-old said. "I didn’t have anything, I didn’t have a life, I wasn’t ambitious. So, he gave me life.”

Onakoya founded his charity Chess in Slums Africa in 2018, aiming to help educate 1 million children in slum communities across the continent. 

He said his main goal in breaking the record was to raise awareness for the organization’s mission.

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