Team Nigeria finished in third place on the final medal standings at the just concluded 20th edition of the African Championships in Athletics held in Durban, South Africa.
With just four gold medals to show for her efforts, Nigeria was no match for hosts, South Africa, who amassed 16 gold medals and Kenya who got half of same to finish in second place.
This is the fifth victory for South Africa in seven editions of the biennial athletics fiesta and this is poorest show for Nigeria in a decade.
The two bronze and two silver medals on the final day of competition on Sunday could not improve the fortunes of Nigeria who aside wining four gold, won 5 silver and 7 bronze medals to finish with a total haul of 16 medals.
Some of those that won medals for Nigeria on the final day include Tameka Jameson who got the Bronze medal running a time of 57.17s in the women’s 400m Hurdles while Doreen Amata in the Women’s High jump got silver same way the 4x400m Women Relay team ended up.
With this lowest medal return for Nigeria at the Africa Championships, many fear this could be a pointer to what the Rio Olympics holds if funding issues plaguing the Athletics Federation of Nigeria, and indeed the other sporting federations is not properly addressed.
Nigeria was forced to travel to Durban with a lean team even as some of the earlier listed athletes did not finally make the trip. Nigeria was unable to even present a team in three out of the four relays, when smaller countries like Swaziland could present a team.
This no doubt explains why Nigeria went from finishing 2nd in Marrakech two years ago with 24 medals (8 GOLD, 9 Silver & 7 Bronze) and can now account for just 16 medals in 2016.
Fortunately, Lagos, Nigeria is the next host of the championships and that offers the country a big chance to end the dominance of South Africa.
TEAM GOLD SILVER BRONZE TOTAL
SOUTH AFRICA 16 9 8 33
KENYA 8 8 8 24
NIGERIA 4 5 7 16
COTE D’IVOIRE 3 1 2 6
BOTSWANA 3 1 1 5
GHANA 1 3 2 6
TUNISIA 1 3 2 6
ETHIOPIA 1 2 3 6
MOROCCO 1 2 2 5
CAMEROON 1 2 2 5