The first batch of Nigerian athletes to the recently concluded 2018 Commonwealth Games – the Gold Coast Games – is due back on Wednesday. Of the nine gold medals won, the women won six; and of the total 24 medals won, the women won 14!
With a 90 member-strong contingent, Team Nigeria finished in the ninth position with nine gold, nine silver, and six bronze medals – a downturn from the 11 gold, 11 silver, and 14 bronze medals won at the 2014 Games in Glasgow, Scotland.
Team Nigeria competed in nine events – Artistic Gymnastics, Athletics, Basketball, Boxing, Para Powerlifting, Rhythmic Gymnastics, Table Tennis, Weightlifting, and Wrestling.
Artistic Gymnastics, Basketball, Rhythmic Gymnastics, and Weightlifting failed to win any medals. These four categories collectively sent 18 athletes to Australia. Women athletes made up 29 of the 90 athletes, and they won the majority of the medals.
Athletics made up the bulk of the team – 38, but they were only able to snag two gold, two silver, and one bronze medal. Oluwatobiloba Amusan surprised many by winning the gold in the 100m hurdles while Suwaibidu Galadima blitzed the T47 event. In the relays, the ladies won silver and bronze in the 4x400m and 4x100m events respectively.
There was some confusion concerning the inclusion of the women’s 100m defending champion, Blessing Okagbare; the furore that surrounded first the exclusion of Seye Ogunlewe and his inclusion at the last minute. Nigeria had to watch as South Africa took both gold and silver in the men’s 100m event. Akanni Simbine came in first, followed home by his compatriot Henricho Bruintjies. Ogunlewe was given the fourth position despite stopping the clock at 10:19s, same as Jamaica’s Yohan Blake. The reason being that Ogunlewe’s reaction time off the blocks was measured at 0.143 as against Blake’s 0.139.
The 2014 team won six medals comprised of four gold and two silver medals, and the 2018 contingent mirrored that haul. With the same number of athletes, six, the team retained their positions atop the Para Powerlifting tree. The same three men returned from Scotland while the women saw two new competitors joining Esther Oyema.
Rolland Ezurike upgraded to gold from silver while Paul Kehinde had to settle for the silver medal in the Men’s Lightweight division as Abdulazeez Ibrahim retained his Men’s Heavyweight crown. Oyema was back for another gold at the Gold Coast while new entrant, Lucy Ejike, had to settle for the silver in the Women’s Lightweight division. Ndidi Nwosu snagged gold in the Women’s Heavyweight division.
Just as we predicted that the team would not win any medal because of the composition of the team and the strife in the basketball federation – the team finished the competition with four straight losses. D’Tigers scored 248 points but conceded 355; with the team’s captain, Ikechukwu Diogu, posting 84 points.
There were high hopes for the team but sickness and other conditions saw the team falter. The men’s team went all the way to the team final before they were dispatched by India while Nigeria’s No.1 player, Aruna Quadri battled sickness to reach the final where he lost 3-2 to Ning Gao of Singapore. Quadri went two sets down but battled to 2-2 before losing the final set 11-5. We predicted two gold medals but have had to settle for two silver medals.
A team made up of four male and three female athletes won two bronze medals – Yetunde Odunuga in the 60kg category and Millicent Agboegbulem in the 75kg category. PREMIUM TIMES had flagged the absence of sparring partners, and that it could become a major hindrance to being in tip-top shape and this played out in Australia. We predicted two gold medals but we got two bronze medals.
What this shows is that things can be done better to prepare our athletes for these sort of games. These results also highlight that Nigeria is gradually losing its prominence in short sprints.
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