Today she's a successful athlete and model, but for years Gbemisola Ijigbamigbe wore clothes that were too big to try and hide the way she walks having contracted polio as a baby.
"I was trying to be a tom boy at the same time, trying to mask up all my emotions so that whatever you say does not get to me and all that stuff, but at some point, you can only just hide from the whole world but inside, in my corners, I would cry.''
On Tuesday (August 25), the World Health Organization was celebrating that all 47 countries of its African region are free of endemic wild polio - a crippling viral disease that attacks the nervous system and can cause irreversible paralysis within hours.
The declaration comes four years after the last case was recorded in Ijigbamigbe's native Nigeria and 32 years after the Global Polio Eradication Initiative, which is backed by the WHO, launched its campaign.
At the time polio was endemic in 125 countries worldwide and paralyzing nearly 1,000 children a day.
Since then vaccinations have drastically cut the number of cases but a vaccine-derived strain of the disease continues to circulate in Africa.
It can infect people where there is only partial vaccination - and results in the same symptoms as the wild form.
Misbahu Lawan-Didi contracted the virus at the age of two and is now chairman of the Association of Polio Survivors.
He urged continued vaccination to prevent the disease from resurfacing.
''It is the only protective measure, it is the only way that we are sure that Nigeria will no longer have childhood polio in our country.''
For Ijigbamigbe, she's happy that other children will not have to go through the emotional pain that she suffered as a child - but the award-winning Lagos state swimmer and wheelchair basketball player says that for the thousands living with the effects of the disease Africa, it does not have to be a barrier.
''Polio is not a death sentence, I am here, I am standing, I am here sitting so polio is not a death sentence. Anybody that is suffering from polio…it is even a stepping stone for you.''