Nigerian chess champion, Tunde Onakoya, smashes Guinness World Record in epic 60-hour marathon

Tunde Onakoya

By Seyi Gesinde

In a stunning display of endurance and determination, Nigerian chess prodigy Tunde Onakoya has rewritten the history books, breaking the world record for the longest chess marathon.

Battling it out unbeaten for over 58 hours amidst the bustling backdrop of New York City’s iconic Times Square, Onakoya’s marathon session aimed to raise a staggering $1 million for the education of underprivileged children across Africa.

Setting out on Wednesday, April 17, 2024, with the lofty goal of playing for 58 hours straight, Onakoya’s resolve knew no bounds as he continued his strategic conquest until he reached the remarkable milestone of 60 hours, shattering the previous record set in 2018.

Surpassing the formidable feat achieved by Norwegians Hallvard Haug Flatebo and Sjur Ferkingstad, Onakoya’s triumph stands as a testament to his unwavering dedication and passion for a noble cause.

Reflecting on his extraordinary journey, Onakoya expressed a whirlwind of emotions, admitting, “I can’t process a lot of the emotions I feel right now. I don’t have the right words for them. But I know we did something truly remarkable.”

ALSO READ: Davido surprises chess champion Tunde Onakoya in Times Square following New York concert

In the wee hours of the morning, when exhaustion threatened to overpower him, Onakoya found solace and inspiration in the unwavering support of his fellow Nigerians, who rallied around him with unwavering solidarity.

With the eyes of the world upon him, Onakoya’s monumental achievement is yet to be officially recognised by the Guinness World Records organisation, a process that may take weeks.

However, accolades and praise have already begun to pour in, with Onakoya extending heartfelt gratitude to his partner, Shawn Martinez, whose unwavering support was instrumental in the historic endeavour.

Beyond the boundaries of the chessboard, Onakoya’s impact extends deeply into his homeland of Nigeria, where he spearheaded the Chess in Slums project in 2018, providing marginalized youth with a platform to learn and excel in the royal game.

With over 10 million school-age children out of school in Nigeria, Onakoya’s initiative serves as a beacon of hope, offering a pathway to empowerment and education for those most in need.

As the marathon unfolded, donations poured in, with over $22,000 raised within the first 20 hours alone.

The outpouring of support from Nigerians, global leaders, celebrities, and passersby alike has been nothing short of awe-inspiring, underscoring the widespread impact of Onakoya’s noble mission.

In a statement, Nigerian President Bola Tinubu hailed Onakoya’s record-breaking achievement as a testament to Nigeria’s resilience, self-belief, and ingenuity.

He lauded Onakoya’s unwavering commitment to effecting positive change, even in the face of adversity, embodying the spirit of Nigeria’s vibrant youth population.

Tunde Onakoya’s epic 60-hour chess marathon stands not only as a monumental triumph in the world of chess but also as a powerful symbol of hope, resilience, and the transformative power of education.