Commonwealth Games medal haul for Nigeria

By Oviri Kelvin, Sports Editor, Abuja

  •  Tobi Amusan, Ese Brume break records
  • Star hurdler becomes first African to win three championships in a year
  • Athletics boss Tonobok Okowa predicted feats

Before the Commonwealth games, Nigeria recorded its name in the annals of world athletics in the recently concluded World Athletics Championships in Oregon, United States where Tobi Amusan broke the 100mh global record to emerge champion.

Nigerian athletes’ zeal to triumph and dominate the world of athletics did not end in Oregon. Team Nigeria, after being charged by Youth and Sports Development minister Sunday Dare, to be good ambassadors as they fly the country’s flag, consistently, in various sports competitions, harvested medals meritoriously.

Remarkably, the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, England played host to 93 competitors comprising 41 men and 52 women in seven major sports namely, Athletics, Boxing, Judo, Para powerlifting, Table tennis, Weightlifting and Wrestling, with Team Nigeria hauling a total of 32 medals so far.

Recall that Nigeria, in the last Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast, Australia, was ranked ninth in the championship that was competed by 88 athletes after hauling 24 medals that comprised 9 gold, 9 silver and 6 bronze.

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However, the superlative 2022 Team Nigeria have improved on their earlier record in Gold Coast to scoop 11 gold, 8 silver and 13 bronze medals to be ranked 6th in the country’s 15th appearance at the Commonwealth Games.

Among the crop of athletes that shot Nigeria to the podium in Birmingham,  is Nwachukwu Chiemeria who won the gold medal in the Women’s Para Discus event with a throw of 36.56 to set a new commonwealth record, surpassing her previous feat.

Nasiru Sule in the men’s para singles in table tennis clinched the silver medal with a 3-5 win to climb the podium in Birmingham.

In the men’s freestyle 57kg event, our, Ebikewenimo Welson finished with a silver medal after he lost to India’s Kumar Ravi. In the women’s freestyle 50kg wrestling event, Miesinnei Genesis snatched the gold medal after she humbled Canadian Meddison Park.

Cynthia Ogunsemilore, in her surge to snap the gold medal, was defeated by Any Sara Broadhurst of Northern Ireland to settle for the bronze medal. Ogbonna John won the bronze medal in the men’s freestyle 74kg event after he defeated England’s Charlie Bowling.

Also in wrestling, Team Nigeria got a silver medal after Hannah Reuben lost to Canada’s Justina di Stasio in the final fight. In boxing, Nigeria’s duo, Jacinta Umunnakwe and Ifeanyi Onyekwere, won bronze medals in separate categories.

As aforementioned, world champion and record holder Tobi Amusan has broken the Commonwealth Games record to set hers of 12.30s in the 100mh event at the Alexander Stadium, Birmingham.

It was her second feat in the Commonwealth Games.

The 25-year-old, who in the build-up to the final round dominated her challengers, floored Jamaican silver medalist Devynne Charlton on 12.58s and England’s Cindy Sember on 12.59s to ignite the ecstatic crowd.

Prior to the final contest, specifically on Saturday, the President of the Athletic Federation of Nigeria (AFN), Tonobok Okowa, believed Nigerian athletes will win more gold medals before the conclusion of the games with much emphasis on Tobi Amusan to successfully defend her title and set a new record.

Tonobok referred to the global record holder as a star in the world of athletics, who will become the first Nigerian athlete to successfully defend her title in Birmingham.

Amusan won the title in 2018 in Gold Coast, Australia, and has successfully defended it with the game’s record to complement her feat. With this achievement by the athlete, she became the second sprint hurdler after Australian Sally Pearson (2010, 2014) to defend the 100mh title in Commonwealth Games. Why hers is spectacular is that she set a new games record in the process.

“Tobi has proved to be a big occasion athlete and exhibited it at the World Championships in Oregon, USA last month where she not only made history as the first Nigerian to be crowned a world champion but also the first Nigerian athlete to set a world record,” Okowa said.

“She will be defending the Commonwealth Games title she won four years ago in the Gold Coast, Australia and the entire athletics family in Nigeria is behind our golden girl who has exhibited the can-do spirit of an average Nigerian,” the AFN President added.

Amusan had earlier broken the Commonwealth Games record of 12.65s set in 2006 by Jamaica’s Brigitte Foster-Hyltonalso with her 12.40s attained in the semi-final but it was rendered untenable by a 2.4m/s tailwind.

Despite the setback, the undeterred Ijebu Ode-born sprint hurdler finally broke the 16 years record with a 12.30s run.

Spectacularly, Amusan has become the first Nigerian athlete to win gold at the African Championships, the Commonwealth Games and the World Championships in the same year.

In athletics, Favour Ofili clinched the silver medal in the women’s 200m final after Jamaican Elaine Thompson Herah ran 22.02s ahead of her 22.51s. Also in Athletics, the quartet of Tobi Amusan, Favour Ofili, Rosemary Chukwuna and Grace Nwokocha clinched the gold medal in the 4x400m. In the male category, Udodi Onwuzurike, Favour Ashe, Alaba Akintola and Raymond Ekevwo won the bronze medal with 38.81s to trail gold medalist England on 38.35s and silver medalist Trinidad and Tobago.

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