PREMIUM TIMES’ top 14 sports figures for 2014

Aruna Quadri

Like every other year, 2014 was a mixed bag for Nigerian sports in which some sports personalities braced the odds to distinguish themselves in their chosen fields.

Aside the actors, athletes themselves, a sprinkle of administrators also deserve rave remarks for their efforts which in turn helped the fortunes of their different sports.

One sport that gave Nigeria so much to cheer in the outgoing year was athletics where the heroics of the likes of Blessing Okagbare and Ese Brume brought smiles to many faces.

Table tennis through Aruna Quadri also deserves worthy mention as the humble ping-pong star shook the table tennis world which culminated in the 26-year-old soaring on the world rankings like never before.

Below are PREMIUM TIMES’ top 14 sports personalities/group for 2014 in no particular order.

1. Blessing Okagbare

The queen of the tracks posted a series of top-notch performances this season. Okagbare

Blessing Okagbare is rode high in 2014
Blessing Okagbare is rode high in 2014

was blazing hot at the Glasgow Commonwealth Games where she set a new games record en-route wining the 100m gold medal. The Delta State-born athlete who got married in the course of the year also added the 200m Gold in Glasgow before going on to stamp her authority on the continent, winning the African Championships 100m gold as well and also anchoring the 4x100m relay team to another gold medal. Okagbare also posted fond memories in the prestigious IAAF Diamond League, especially in Shanghai where she won a double with Meet Records in the Long jump (6.86m) and 200m. She ran also a PB of 22.23 seconds in the 200m to come 2nd behind surprise winner Tori Bowie in Eugene. In all, Okagbare participated in nine Diamond League meetings this season, winning four of them. She’s ranked second in the IAAF World rankings in the 100m this year, and fifth in the 200m.

2. Asissat Oshoala

The 20-year-old female football star was arguably the most celebrated amongst her peers

Asisat Oshoala
Assisat Oshoala

in the outgoing year. Ever looking humble and gentle, Oshoala played pivotal roles in the successes recorded by the national teams, the Falconets at the Canada 2014 FIFA U20 Women’s World Cup and the Super Falcons at the Africa Women Championships (AWC). Little wonder she scooped individual awards for herself at the big stage and she is also reported to be on the wish list of several top sides in Europe. Oshoala was the best player and highest goal scorer at the 2014 FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup. She was also best player and second top goal scorer with the Super Falcons team who won the 2014 African Women’s Championship. Oshoala capped the wonderful year winning the Federation Cup with her local club Rivers Angel. Rivers Angels are also the Nigeria Women League champions.

3. Aruna Quadri

From his humble beginning in the ancient city of Oyo, Aruna Quadri has braved all odds to

Aruna Quadri
Aruna Quadri

rise to stardom in global table tennis. The 26-year-old stunned the world with his exceptional performance at the just concluded World Cup in Dusseldorf, Germany. In modern table tennis, Quadri has become the first black and African player to make it to number 30 in the world and this feat has received accolades across the globe. Quadri produced major world table tennis shocks by recording two stunning upsets on the opening day of the Liebherr ITTF Men’s World Cup in Dusseldorf, Germany. The 26-year-old, who was ranked as low as 237 at the start of the year, beat world number 27 Kenta Matsudaira of Japan in his opening group game. He went on to beat world number 37 Alexander Shibaev of Russia to progress to the final 16.

4. Vincent Enyeama

The Super Eagles may have failed in their bid to qualify for the Africa Nations Cup in

Vincent Enyeama
Vincent Enyeama

Equatorial Guinea, but that has by no means diminished the heroics of Lille of France shot-stopper Enyeama. Enyeama was outstanding for Nigeria at the World Cup in Brazil where he was given high ratings like other world class goalkeepers at the Mundial. Having narrowly missed out on the BBC African Footballer of Year, Enyeama has his eyes on the top prize at the CAF Awards where is amongst final shortlist of three players to be accorded the biggest individual award in African football. Enyeama however faces tough test from the duo of Yaya Toure of Ivory Coast and Gabonese Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.

5. Mfon Udoh

The Enyimba striker was the crowned king of soccer on the home front in the outgoing

Mfon Udoh
Mfon Udoh

year. Udoh has his name etched in the sands of the Nigeria Football League having set a new all-time goals record of 23 goals in a season. Udoh was understandably voted the best player in the League last season at the League Bloggers Award in Lagos and the former Akwa United star is already eyeing a move to Europe with possible destination being Spain. Udoh has already being drafted to the Super Eagles team where he vowed to continue his goal scoring spree.

6. Ese Brume

ese brume
ese brume

The 18-year-old passes for the biggest revelation in athletics for the outgoing year 2014. After the disappointment at the World Junior Championships in the United Sates, Brume surprised everyone including herself to win the Commonwealth Games Long Jump gold. The outing was her first big outing and wining gold was to say the least very pleasant. Weeks later, Brume was able to prove skeptics wrong that she was no flash in the pan as she again finished tops in the African Women Championships beating all comers to the Gold medal in Marrakech, Morocco.

7. Obafemi Martins

Obafemi Martins
Obafemi Martins

The 30-year-old striker had a wonderful season in the United States where he stars for Seattle Sounders. Despite being overlooked by national team handlers, Martins was in no way deterred a he continually churned out breath-taking performances for his team week in week out. The Nigerian striker scored a club-record 17 goals during the regular season, it wasn’t just his scoring that set him apart in 2014, as Martins tied Mauro Rosales’ club record with 13 assists, including four game-winners. Martins was one of three Sounders FC players that started the 2014 AT&T MLS All-Star Game, was voted to the MLS Best XI alongside Chad Marshall and finished runner-up in Volkswagen MLS MVP Voting. For his efforts, the 30-year-old signed a contract extension on October 28 to remain in Seattle, so Sounders fans will be watching backflips for years to come.

8. Wahid Enitan Oshodi

Wahid Enitan Oshodi
Wahid Enitan Oshodi

While serving as the Lagos state Sports Commissioner, the Barrister also doubles as the President of the Nigeria Table Tennis Federation (NTTF), a post he has used in changing the fortunes of the game. It is worthy to note that the NTTF under Oshodi successfully engaged its players in 19 local and international competitions within the year. Some of these competitions are the Lagos Open and the 2014 International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) African Top 16, which it hosted with 12 countries in attendance between June 23 and June 28. Aside the competitions held in Nigeria, the country’s stars, particularly Aruna Quadri, showed the nation’s resurgence in the sport with sterling performances in the world arena.

9. Odunayo Adekuoroye

Odunayo Adekuoroye
Odunayo Adekuoroye

The 20-year-old wrestler busted to limelight at the 2014 Commonwealth Games where in a spectacular fashion she won the 53kg freestyle wrestling. It was the perfect stage for Adekuoroye to bury the disappointment she had to endure at the African Championships in Tunis where she had to settle for silver. Having now broken the duck, the Ondo-state born wrestler says its forward ever for are and she now has her eyes glued to winning gold at the Rio Olympics.

10. Lovelyn Obiji

Lovelyn Obiji
Lovelyn Obiji

The power-lifter remains a perfect example to highlight the ability in disability. Having registered her name in the minds of many at the power-lifting event of the 2012 London Olympics, Obiji continued in the same light in 2014 Commonwealth Games where she not only won the gold but a new world record as she lifted 122.4kg to set the new world record in the heavyweight class.

11. Kano Pillars

Kano Pillars squad
Kano Pillars squad

Winning the Nigeria League for three consecutive seasons gives the Pyramid Boys some leverage to be given a mention as one of the standouts for the outgoing year. Winning the league was indeed a collective effort on the part of the Nigeria champions who are now looking forward to making meaningful impact on the continent in the CAF champions League.

12. Rivers Angels

Rivers Angels training
Rivers Angels training

Like Pillars the dominance of the Port Harcourt team is unrivalled in the women circles where they this year did a double winning the league title and the Women’s Federation Cup. On the national scale , Rivers Angels is now a talent factory as the team provideda whopping 11 players from the all couquering Super Falcons team and a h.ndful also in the Falonets team that made it to the finals of the FIFA U 20 Women’s World Cup in Canada.

13. Daniel Igali

Daniel Igali
Daniel Igali

Arguably one of the few round pegs in round holes in sports administration in Nigeria, the wrestling boss has overtime gone out of his way to get result for the country. A popular figure amongst the country’s wrestlers, Igali posits that wrestling in Nigeria was growing, but there were still shortcomings that could be tackled head-on with better funding.

14. George Ashiru

George Ashiru
George Ashiru

Termed a silent achiever, Taekwondo under is making giant strides under the leadership of Ashiru. Amongst other achievements in the outgoing year, many recalls that Team Nigeria made the biggest impact at the Commonwealth Taekwondo Championships where Nigeria won 10 medals with only 15 athletes a success rate better than teams with much larger numbers. The team was ranked in top 5 at the events, while also wining the “Best Referee” award via Ms Margaret Binga (NTF Vice President).


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  • Tosin Otitoju

    That last photograph is of Taekwondo champion Chukwumerijie, not Ashiru.

  • RestructureNigeria

    PROMISE YOURSELF & LOVED ONES PEACE. SUPPORT THE RESTRUCTURING OF NIGERIA ACCORDING TO THE 2014 NATIONAL CONFERENCE…..

    REMEMBER…..

    As long the Muslim population remains around or under 2% in any given country, they will be for the most part be regarded as a peace-loving minority, and not as a threat to other citizens. Although there WILL be Islamic attacks..

    United States — Muslim 0.6%

    Australia — Muslim 1.5%

    Canada — Muslim 1.9%

    China — Muslim 1.8%

    Italy — Muslim 1.5%

    Norway — Muslim 1.8%

    At 2% to 5%, they begin to proselytize from other ethnic minorities and disaffected groups, often with major recruiting from the jails and among street gangs. There will be MORE attacks at this level

    This is happening in:

    Denmark — Muslim 2%

    Germany — Muslim 3.7%

    United Kingdom — Muslim 2.7%

    Spain — Muslim 4%

    Thailand — Muslim 4.6%

    From 5% on, they exercise an inordinate influence in proportion to their percentage of the population. For example, they will push for the introduction of halal (clean by Islamic standards) food, thereby securing food preparation jobs for Muslims. They will increase pressure on supermarket chains to feature halal on their shelves — along with threats for failure to comply. There will now be a level of fear from the natural population towards muslims This is occurring in:

    France — Muslim 8%

    Philippines — 5%

    Sweden — Muslim 5%

    Switzerland — Muslim 4.3%

    The Netherlands — Muslim 5.5%

    Trinidad & Tobago — Muslim 5.8%

    At this point, they will work to get the ruling government to allow them to rule themselves (within their ghettos) under Sharia, the Islamic Law. The ultimate goal of Islamists is to establish Sharia law over the entire world.

    When Muslims approach 10% of the population, they tend to increase lawlessness as a means of complaint about their conditions. In Paris , we are already seeing car-burnings. Any non-Muslim action offends Islam, and results in uprisings and threats, such as in Amsterdam , with opposition to Mohammed cartoons and films about Islam. Such tensions are seen daily, particularly in Muslim sections, in: Almost DAILY attacks in this range

    Guyana — Muslim 10%

    India — Muslim 13.4%

    Israel — Muslim 16%

    Kenya — Muslim 10%

    Russia — Muslim 15%

    After reaching 20%, nations can expect hair-trigger rioting, jihad militia formations, sporadic killings, and the burnings of Christian churches and Jewish synagogues, such as in:

    Ethiopia — Muslim 32.8%

    At 40%, nations experience widespread massacres, chronic terror attacks, and ongoing militia warfare, such as in:

    Bosnia — Muslim 40%

    NIGERIA– Muslim 42.8%

    Chad — Muslim 53.1%

    Lebanon — Muslim 59.7%

    From 60%, nations experience unfettered persecution of non-believers of all other religions (including non-conforming Muslims), sporadic ethnic cleansing (genocide), use of Sharia Law as a weapon, and ***ya, the tax placed on infidels, such as in:

    Albania — Muslim 70%

    Malaysia — Muslim 60.4%

    Qatar — Muslim 77.5%

    Sudan — Muslim 70%

    After 80%, expect daily intimidation and violent jihad, some State-run ethnic cleansing, and even some genocide, as these nations drive out the infidels, and move toward 100% Muslim, such as has been experienced and in some ways is on-going in:

    Bangladesh — Muslim 83%

    Egypt — Muslim 90%

    Gaza — Muslim 98.7%

    Indonesia — Muslim 86.1%

    Iran — Muslim 98%

    Iraq — Muslim 97%

    Jordan — Muslim 92%

    Morocco — Muslim 98.7%

    Pakistan — Muslim 97%

    Palestine — Muslim 99%

    Syria — Muslim 90%

    Tajikistan — Muslim 90%

    Turkey — Muslim 99.8%

    United Arab Emirates — Muslim 96%

    100% will usher in the peace of ‘Dar-es-Salaam’ — the Islamic House of Peace. Here there’s supposed to be peace, because everybody is a Muslim, the Madrasas are the only schools, and the Koran is the only word, such as in:

    Afghanistan — Muslim 100%

    Saudi Arabia — Muslim 100%

    Somalia — Muslim 100%

    Yemen — Muslim 100%

    Unfortunately, peace is never achieved, as in these 100% states the most radical Muslims intimidate and spew hatred, and satisfy their blood lust by killing less radical Muslims, for a variety of reasons. Then you have TERORRISTS LIKE BOKO HARAM, FULANI HERDSMEN, SUDAN JANJAWEEDS, ISIS, TALIBAN, ..Islam with a hall pass!!!

    • Dan Fulani

      You have forgotten to mention Tafawa Balewa,Plateau state,Southern Kaduna,Wukari,Takum and Gewana.

  • Egbu Yugo

    Nice

  • Gabriel Olasebikan

    In addition,the Igbo’s were the first and only people to build an airport (Owerri airport)and hand it over to the FG,they are the only people to build a Law School(Enugu LS) and hand it over to the FG.

  • kika

    It’s waiting for Godot to expect Fulani/Hausa/Kanuri to give up the advantages they got from military conquest for restructuring of Nigeria politically. Soldiers from north of Nigeria restructured Nigeria politically through wrong use of land mass as criterion to suit the far north.
    Assuming any force magiore makes Fulani to agree to restructuring, once the representatives to the restructuring table are equally picked from each of the 36 states and Abuja, the outcome of the restructuring cannot be far from the existing lopsided and failed political structure.

  • Dan Fulani

    I like this fallacy.
    A non Nigerian will be forgiven if he believes this writer.
    This writer doesn’t know the difference between a trader and a manufacturer. He needs to have his head examined if he thinks other Nigerians will tolerate Igbos as foreigners with their level of dishonest businesses of fake and hard drugs,armed robbery, kidnapping,prostitution,substandard goods and services, arrogance and all manners of bad habits.
    Can’t he see that Igbos are no longer controlling monopoly on any legitimate business in Nigeria? All artisans in my state are the indigenous people,be it in building or services industries, thanks to IBB and his NDE.
    No, the Igbos can go before we push them out and very soon.

    • Oduche Azih

      Thanks for making your views very clear. No beating about the bush. It’s nice to know.

      • igboham

        What is your problem – you do not want Biafra to go?

    • Fuzio

      I am yet to see ‘Fulani made’ products in the market, superior or inferior. Someone who cannot gain admission into any institution of higher learning in Nigeria without explicit Federal government intervention is boasting of pushing someone out. Very soon you will have no one else left other than cows to lord it over. The day of reckoning is fast approaching. Whom the gods want to destroy, they first make mad.

    • MikeZen1

      Hahaha as opposed to Fulanis with their compulsive terrorism, paedophilia, begging, laziness, homosexuality, backwardness, illiteracy, armed robbery, kidnapping, murderous & rapist herdsmen, non-existent goods or services, arrogance and all manners of evil habits.
      I’m happy you said “thanks to IBB and his NDE”, reminding us once again that you folks can not do anything without assistance from Federal Govt, just like @Fuzio:disqus mentioned. Meanwhile Igbos continue to thrive as BOTH traders and manufacturers with literally zero FG assistance.
      What a useless and eternally lazy set of people.

    • igboham

      Thank you – don’t mind the article – let us join hands to help the Igbos to leave so Nigeria can move on. Thanks for seeing the future.