The defending champions of the National Sports Festival, Team Delta, have started showing that they are in Abuja to successfully defend their title.
Led by the state’s sports commission boss, Tony Okowa, Team Delta won more than half of the total medals up for grabs in the first day of the Swimming event on Saturday, and they did so in style; setting two records in the process.
Team Delta’s Deborah Opochini set a new National Festival record in the 100m Freestyle Swimming event where she posted a time of 1.03.05sec.
Okopchini’s winning time on Saturday drowned the 27-year-old record previously set by Ikaghoemi Joshua while featuring for Rivers State in the 1991 edition of the game.
Ndakwe Oyindayefa also won gold and set a new festival record in the 200m Butterfly event for women having posted a time of 2.46.28.
The previous festival record in the 200m Butterfly event for women was held by Obia Inyengiyikabo set as far back as in 2006.
There was more to cheer for Delta State at the poolside as Foresight Osamezu won the gold medal in the 100m Men’s Breaststroke event with a time of 1.11.36.
Team Delta won gold again in 200 meters freestyle swimming male event courtesy of Nnor Ifekachukwu.
It was, however, Ondo State that got the gold in the newly introduced Para-Swimming event while Bayelsa and Edo State also had their moments in the pool.
The sports minister, Solomon Dalung, was quite elated to see the Delta State swimmers breaking records and setting the pace. He congratulated them and the other winners.
Also on Day 3 of the NSF, Team Lagos registered their name on the gold column of the medal table with two gold medals which came in quick succession on Saturday night.
The two gold medals came in from judo and taekwondo. Adewunmi Akintunde was at his best during the +78kg category in the judo event beating Rita James from Kano to win the first gold for the state.
Also, Akeem Yusuf, captain of the para-powerlifting team, won a silver medal in the class of 72kg and a call-up to the national team camp.
Kole Ojo of Lagos State also won a bronze medal in the 65kg class of para powerlifting.
Two more bronze medals were won on Saturday in the swimming event.
The Olopedes were the winners of bronze medals. While Smart Olopede won bronze in 100m breaststroke men, his sister, Mercy, won in the 50m breaststroke women in the event watched by the Minister of Sports, Solomon Dalung.
The trio of Rokeeb Arowora, Ibrahim Idris and Rosheed Amusat won the gold medal in the team event-proomse (male), while the trio of Aminat Idrees, Beauty Ditu and Kadijah Abdulrazak won the silver medal in the team event –mixed proomse (female) of Taekwondo.
In individual (male) of taekwondo event, Arowora Rokeeb won bronze medal.
In individual (female), Aminat Idrees won a bronze medal. In taekwondo Team Pair, Arowora Rokeeb and Aminat Idrees won the silver medal.
In some of the results recorded by Team Lagos on Saturday, the team defeated Team Abuja 29 points to 23 points. In Table Tennis Team events which are coming up for the first time in the National Sports Festival, Team Lagos female team beat their counterparts from Ogun State 3-0, while the male table tennis team from Lagos defeated Team Abia 3-1.
Team Lagos will begin defence of their football gold in the last Eko 2012 Games when they take on Bayelsa in their first match of the Abuja 2018 festival by 9 a.m. on Sunday at the practice pitch of the National Stadium, Abuja.
The Lagos team also won their cricket match against Team Kwara by 8 wickets.
FCT’s steady rise and other winners
The hosts, FCT, also had it good on Saturday winning two gold medals In the Kung-Fu events.
Surajdeen Bello won the gold medal for host state- FCT in Judo -100 kg category while his teammates Maryann Ekeada won silver in Judo -78kg female category.
Joseph David from Oyo State won the gold in the +100kg category for men
Also, on Saturday, there was gold for Osun State in the female Para-powerlifting 67kg category where Ibrahim Olaitan won gold after lifting 125 kg.
Virginia Azu of Akwa Ibom came second lifting 125 kg while Oriemezie Joy representing Imo bagged bronze medal with 123 kg.
Elsewhere, world record holder, Lucy Ejike, representing Enugu State lifted 130kg to clinch the gold in the 61kg in Para-powerlifting event.
While official tabulation of the medals table is being expected, Team Delta appears to have taken an early lead in Abuja and they will be looking to consolidate on that as the Sports festival enters Day four on Sunday.