With hours before the official start of the 2022 Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, Team Nigeria is ready to take on the rest of the Commonwealth countries in the battle for sports supremacy.
Fresh from smashing the world record at the 2022 World Athletics Championship, Tobi Amusan will be aiming to successfully defend the gold medal she won in the 2018 edition of the Games. Also, World Athletics Championship Silver medalist, Ese Brume will be the cynosure of all eyes in the long jump event in which she is won Bronze at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
In Wrestling, Blessing Oborodudu won gold at the last Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast, Australia in the Women’s -68kg category.
Also, Odunayo Adekuoroye will defend her gold medal in the Women’s wrestling -57kg category, just as Aminat Adeniyi who won gold in the -62kg event.
The Table Tennis contingent led by Aruna Quadri, which includes Olajide Omotayo would be aiming to improve on the Silver medals they earned from Gold Coast.
Nigeria’s athletes competing in the Powerlifting event will also be aiming to beat all-comers, and better the four Gold medals the country picked up in Gold Coast via Roland Ezuruike, Esther Onyema, Ndidi Nwosu and Abdulazeez Ibrahim.
Nigeria’s para athletes, amongst the best in the world would for sure provide stern tests to their challengers from other nations. Yetunde Odunuga and Millicent Agboegbulam would be set to improve on their bronze medals achievements in Boxing from 2018.
In total, Team Nigeria won 9 Gold medals, 9 silver medals and 6 bronze medals from 8 sports in 2018.
This time, Nigeria will compete in 9 sports namely: Athletics, Boxing, Table Tennis, Judo, weightlifting, Wrestling, Para Athletics, Para powerlifting, Para Table Tennis.
TEAM NIGERIA ATHLETES TO WATCH
Tobi Amusan (100m Hurdles)
Tobi will certainly be the cynosure of all eyes when the athletics event of the games starts. The petite, 25 year old made history at the 18th World Athletics Championships concluded Sunday in Oregon, USA where she scorched to a 12.12 seconds world record enroute her historic gold medal win.
She is now the first, and so fa only Nigerian track and field star to set a world outdoor record and the first to be crowned a world champion. This came barely 10 months after she made history as the first Nigerian athlete to win a Diamond League trophy following her incredible, 12.42 seconds African record-setting run at the Diamond League final in Zurich, Switzerland last September.
In Birmingham, Tobi will be the overwhelming favourite to successfully defend the Commonwealth Games title she won four years ago in the Gold Coast, Australia. The Nigerian will not only be targetting a successful defence of her title but also smash the 12.65 seconds games record set by Jamaica’s Brigitte Foster-Hylton in Melbourne, Australia in 2006.
Amusan came close four years ago, running 12.68 seconds to win the title.
Ese Brume (Long Jump)
One of the most consistent performers for Nigeria since she picked a bronze medal at the 2019 World Athletics Championships, Ese has made the podium in all the major events that followed viz bronze at the Tokyo Olympics last year and silver at the World Indooor and outdoor championships this year. The 26 year old will be gunning fir her first gold in any major competition since 2014 when she jumped 6.56m to win the gold at the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, Scotland.
Missing from the last edition four years ago, Ese will be returning to reclaim the title she gave up without any defence and she is the overwhelming favourite to win.
Favour Ofili (200m)
After under performing at the World Athletics Championships in Oregon, USA, Favour will be seeking to win her first individual gold medal for Nigeria in her debut at the Games. The 19 year old will be seeking to not only become the third Nigerian to run in the final of the 200m event after Mary Onyali (1990) and Blessing Okagbare (2014), she will also be hoping become the third to get to the podium and possibly the second after Okagbare to be crowned Commonwealth Games champion.
Favour holds a 21.96 seconds personal best in the event and repeat of that in the final and the gold medal on her neck will also confer on her the title of Commonwealth Games record holder, supplanting Shaunae Miller-Uibo who ran 22.09 seconds to win the title four years ago in Australia.
Odunayo Folasade Adekuoroye (Wrestling, Freestyle 57 kg)
Odun will be hoping to make up for the disappointment of failing to win the gold medal at the delayed Tokyo 2020 Olympics when she was the overwhelming favourite with a successful defence of the title she won four years ago in Australia.
The 28 year old won all her group A bouts, defeating Sarah McDaid of Northern Ireland (11-0), Joseph Essombe of Cameroun 13-2 and Noellancia Genave of Mauritius 10-0.In the semis, the Nigerian defeated Emily Schaefer of Canada 10-0 before beating India’s Pooja Dhanda 7-5 in the final.
Adekuoroye began her Commonwealth Games journey in 2010 in India. She won the bronze medal in the 48 kg category at the age of 17 years.
Four years later, she defeated Indian Sehrawat Lalita in the final of the women’s freestyle 53 kg category to win her first Commonwealth game gold medal.
The Nigerian is still the favourite to make it a hat-trick of gold medals at the games.
Blessing Oborodudu (Wrestling, Freestyle 68 kg)
Blessing made history last year at the delayed 2020 Olympics in Tokyo when she became the first athlete to win a medal in the Wrestling event, a silver, for Team Nigeria.
The 32 year old is coming back to the Commonwealth Games to defend the gold medal she won four years ago in Australia.
She won her first Commonwealth Games medal in Glasgow, Scotland in 2014 when she defeated British athlete Chloe Spiteri in the bronze medal match. She upgarded to gold four years later, defeating Canada’s Danielle Lappage in the 68 kg women’s freestyle wrestling event to be crowned Commonealth Games champion.
Blessing is tipped to successfully defend her Commonwealth Games title in Birmingham.
Quadri Akinade Aruna (Table Tennis, Mixed Doubles, Men’s Singles, Men’s Team and Men’s Doubles)
Aruna will be gunning for his first Commonwealth Games title since he made his debut in 2014 in Glasgow, Scotland. In his debut, Aruna won a bronze medal in the Men’s Team event together with Bode Abiodun Jide Ogidiolu, Ojo Onaolapo and Segun Toriola. Four years later, the 33 year old got to the final of the Men’s Singles event where he lost 7-11, 8-11, 11-5, 11-3, 9-11, 5-11 to Singapore’s Gao Ning.
Aruna will be seeking to step up from silver to gold in Birmingham.
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