2019 African Games: Nigeria now second on medals table

2019 African Games: Women's Relay Team
2019 African Games: Women's Relay Team

A flurry of gold medals in wrestling and others from athletics, boxing and even canoeing has seen Nigeria soar to the second spot on the overall medals table at the ongoing African Games in Morocco.

Nigeria, as of Thursday night, had gathered a total of 103 medals (40 gold, 28 silver and 35 bronze medals).

South Africa, who were previously occupying the second position, have now dropped to third as the curtain is set to drop on this edition of the African Games.

Nigeria’s biggest harvest of gold medals on Thursday came from wrestling where the country won all but one of the six gold medals on offer to reaffirm her supremacy in the sport on the continent.

Reigning African Games gold medalists, Blessing Oborududu (68kg), Odunayo Adekuoroye (57kg), Mercy Genesis (50kg) and Aminat Adeniyi (62kg), were all impressive as they retained their titles, as well as African Champion Blessing Onyebuchi (76kg), while 2018 African champion Bose Samuel (53kg) settled for silver after losing to Cameroon’s Essombe Joseph 2-4 in the final.

The five gold-medalists did not concede a point in their respective final bouts.

Unexpected feats

While the feat in wrestling was predictable and expected, Nigeria served the continent a pleasant surprise in a relatively unpopular sport in the country, Canoeing,

Nigeria on Thursday won two gold medals as Ayomide Emmanuel Bello won in the women’s 500m while she combined with Goodness Foloki to win another gold.

Another unexpected outcome happened in Rabat as a new face in Nigeria’s table tennis, Olajide Omotayo, emerged as the champion of Africa in the men’s singles event at the 2019 African Games.

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Omotayo conquered three of the best players in Africa to be crowned the new champion of the continent.

From the quarterfinal stage, Omotayo worked his way to the final, beating two former champions – Egypt’s Ahmed Saleh and Nigeria’s Segun Toriola in the quarterfinal and semifinal stages.

The final produced the best of Africa with Aruna Quadri going up against Omotayo and the fans were treated to an exciting match.

Omotayo threw caution to the wind and raced to the lead with a 3-0 (13-11, 11-9, 16-14) but experienced Quadri cut the lead to 3-2 with 8-11, 13-15 wins in the fourth and fifth games.

The sixth match was a display of energy and skills and it was the younger Omotayo that scaled through with 12-10 win to claim the second gold medal for Nigeria in the table tennis event of the multi-sports fiesta.

Although the likes of Ese Brume also won gold for Nigeria in the women’s long jump and Shogbamu Bolanle in boxing, the icing on the cake was the Falconets’ gold medal in the women’s football event.

Bad for badminton

It was however not too good for Nigeria in badminton where only one gold medal was won in the four final matches the team members played on Thursday at the 12th African Games.

The only gold medal was won by Anuoluwapo Opeyori who beat Georges Julien Paul of Mauritius in the Men’s Singles.

Medal Table
Medal Table

Dorcas Adesokan lost the Women’s Singles to South Africa’s Johanita Scholtz.

While the pair of Deborah Ukeh and Dorcas Adesokan were beaten in the Women’s Doubles by Hadia Elsaid and Doha Toufic of Egypt.

Awaiting champions

Going into the last day of action before the closing ceremony, Egypt are home and dry in the first position on the overall medals table. They presently have a massive 79 gold 87 silver and 63 bronze medals.

It would also take a miracle for South Africa, who currently have eight gold medals less than Nigeria, to return to the second position as most of the games where they have medal prospects have been concluded.

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