It was relatively a good and a bad year for the country in sports but despite the economic downturns – the country witnessed some very good wins while there were also some embarrassing outcomes. The sporting fortunes of the country ended on a bright note as the Samson Siasia-led U-23 team qualified for the 2016 Rio Olympics and won the U-23 Nations Cup for the first time in December after the U-17 retained their crown in Chile.
The top 5
D’Tigers win Afro basket championship
Nigeria’s senior men’s basketball team, D’Tigers won their first ever AfroBasket title when they beat perennial nemesis Angola in the final 74–65 in Tunisia with Chamberlain Oguchi was named tourney MVP. By winning the title, Nigeria automatically qualified for the 2016 Olympics.
Golden Eaglets retain World Cup
The national U-17 team, the Golden Eaglets beat Mali 2-0 in the final of the tournament to retain the title the country won in 2013 in the UAE. Victor Osimhen finished the tournament with 10 goals – the highest ever tally in the tournament’s history, while Kelechi Nwakali, was named the Most Valuable Player of the tournament.
Jighere wins Scrabble crown
Wellington Jighere made history in Perth, Australia, to become the first African to win the world Scrabble championship. The 32-year-old said, “I’ve not slept well in about a week. The fact that I was able to perform in spite of the sleeplessness still baffles me. It only goes to prove that God was deeply involved in this matter.”
Succinctly put for a Nigerian! Jighere beat Lewis MacKay 448-426. MacKay was ranked 19 by the body’s players’ association, with Jighere not even featuring.
The Nigeria Professional Football League showed marked improvements
For a long time, the NPFL was exciting as teams went away from home to win on the road and at the end Enyimba FC made history as they became the first club side to win the league for seven times. The coach of the Aba side, Kadiri Ikhana also won the championship for a third time.
Nigeria wins Para-All Africa Games
In para-sport at the same tournament, Nigeria finished top with 12 gold, 11 silver and eight bronze, totaling 31 medals. In the main Games, Nigeria finished second behind Egypt with 47 gold, 55 silver and 42 bronze medals.
The low 5
No medals at 1AAF Championship
The embarrassment for the nation was completed when the only medal hope, out of the 16 athletes that was chosen for the tournament, Blessing Okagbare, was a no-show for the 200m event in Beijing.
The National Sports Festival was postponed again
Nigeria’s version of the Olympics, the National Sports Festival, was postponed once again as the National Sports Commission continued to trumpet the fact that there was no money to organize the games.
Eagles fall outside Africa’s top 10
The Super Eagles suffered the ignominy of missing the Nations Cup – for which they were defending champions. Stephen Keshi was finally shown the road by the Amaju Pinnick-led NFF with Sunday Oliseh installed. For the World Cup qualifiers, Nigeria would not be a top seed which means the road to Russia will be very rocky.
One medal at wrestling championship
At the 12th edition of the World Wrestling Championships, Nigeria came 24th as the country could only snag one bronze medal, courtesy of 22-year-old Odunayo Adekuoroye in the women’s 53kg freestyle category. The country did not attend the 2014 edition that took place in Tashkent, Uzbekistan.
No Federation fulfilled calendar except football
Almost all the sport federations in the country struggled throughout the year and most of the athletes in the various federations could not fulfill their dreams of participating in world events. And 2016 does not paint a better picture with the cash crunch in the economy.