Nigeria @61:  Memorable Moments Of Nigerian Sports Since Independence

Nigeria @61:  Memorable Moments Of Nigerian Sports Since Independence

Nigeria has enjoyed a handful of glorious days in various sporting events since becoming Independent in 1960. Year in, year out, sports events have remained a uniting factor in Africa’s most populated nation, breaking the boundaries of ethnicity and religious inclination.

In this piece, Completesports.com’s AUGUSTINE AKHILOMEN highlights 31 of these moments that Nigerians will never forget in a hurry.

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1. 1952: Nigeria Makes First Olympic Games Appearance

Nigeria first featured in the Olympic Games in 1952 and the country has not missed the games since then, apart from the boycotted Canada 1976 edition.

2. 1954 Commonwealth Games: lfeajuna Claims Gold Medal In High Jump

The late Emmanuel lfeajuna won a gold medal in High Jump event at the 1954 Commonwealth Games.

3. 1957: Bassey Crowned World Featherweight Boxing Champion

Hogan ‘Kid’ Bassey became the World Featherweight Boxing king in 1957. Hogan was the first Nigerian-British born boxer to become world boxing champion after he shed his blood to win a featherweight bout in 1957 in Liverpool.

4. 1964: Nigeria’s First Olympic Medal In Men’s Light Middleweight Boxing

Nojeem Maiyegun represented Nigeria at the 1964 Summer Olympic Games in Tokyo, Japan, then he won the bronze medal in the men’s Light Middleweight boxing category and enter the history books as Nigeria’s first Olympic medalist.

5. 1979: Andeh Claims World Amateur Boxing Title

In 1979, Davidson Andeh became the first and only Nigerian to win the World Amateur Lightweight boxing championship fight against a Russian opponent, in Belgrade, Yugoslavia.

6. 1980: Green Eagles Are AFCON Champions

Nigeria tasted the feeling of becoming champions as the Green Eagles defeated Morocco in the final of the Africa Cup of Nations in 1980 to win their first major senior title in football.

7. 1984: Nigeria’s 4×400 Relay Team Makes Olympic History

Nigeria won its first-ever Athletics Olympic medal at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympic Games in the 4x400m relay event. The quartet of Innocent Egbunike, Sunday Uti, Moses Ugbisie, and Rotimi Peters won the bronze in an Africa record time of 2:59.32.

8. 1985: Golden Eaglets Win FIFA U-16 World Championship Title

The Golden Eaglets, emerged the inaugural winners of the U-17 FIFA World Cup, known as FIFA/Kodak U-16 World Championship that held in China in 1985. The team coached by Sebastien Brodericks and Christian Chukwu beat Germany in the final 2-0, with goals from Babatunde Joseph and Jonathan Akpoborie.

9. 1989: Damman Miracle

Nigeria’s U-20 football team, the Flying Eagles recorded one of the biggest comebacks in football history at the FIFA U20 World Cup hosted by Saudi Arabia in 1989. The team came from four goals down to record 4-4 draw against USSR, then went on to win the quarterfinal game 5-4 on penalties. It was the closest the Flying Eagles came to winning the tournament which was eventually won by Portugal.

10. 1989: Okwaraji Slumps, Dies On National Duty

This was a tragedy, but it is an iconic moment in the history of sports in Nigeria. Samuel Okwaraji, a midfielder for the national team, collapsed and died . He slumped in the centre of the pitch in the 77th minute of a FIFA World Cup qualification encounter against Angola on August 12, 1989. An autopsy conducted revealed the 25-year-old had an enlarged heart and high blood pressure.

11. Barcelona 1992 Olympics: Nigeria Bag Four Gold Medals

The most medals Nigeria had ever won at a Summer Olympics were the two she got at the Los Angeles 1984 Olympic Games, but the likes of Oluyemi Kayode, Olapade Adeniken, Mary Onyali and Christy Opara Thompson made history by winning four.

12. 1993: Yekini wins African Footballer Of The Year Award

The diadem of Africa’s best football player had eluded Nigerian players until the late Rashidi Yekini, in 1994, showed that he was a cut above the rest. The first Nigerian player to score at the FIFA World Cup, the former 3SC and Vitoria Setubal striker was the lynchpin of the Super Eagles team that won the 1994 Africa Cup of Nations title and reached the height of No.5-ranked team in the world.

13. 1994 & 2013: Super Eagles Are AFCON Champions

After winning her first AFCON title in 1980, the Super Eagles went on to win the 1994 and 2013 African titles after defeating Zambia and Burkina Faso in the finals respectively.

14. Atlanta 1996 Olympics: Nigeria Wins Historic Football Gold Medal

Nigeria, against all odds, became the first African country to win the Olympic football gold medal which the Dream Team 1 achieved at Atlanta ’96 Olympics. Nigeria defeated Argentina in the final 3-1 to clinched the title. The team, captained by Nwankwo Kanu, went the circuitous route; coming from 3-1 down to Brazil in the semi-final to win 4-3 with a sudden-death goal from Nwankwo Kanu.

15. 1996: Ajunwa Grabs Nigeria’s First Olympic Gold Medal

Chioma Ajunwa became the first Nigerian athlete to win an Olympic gold medal and is also the first black African woman to win an Olympic gold medal in a field event. She remains Nigeria’s only individual Olympic gold medalist till date.

16. 1998: Super Falcons Win inaugural AWCON

The Super Falcons powered their way to claim the inaugural African Women Championship [AWCON] in 1998, where they defeated Ghana 2-0 in the final match played in Abeokuta, Ogun state. Nigeria’s female national team, at today, has now won the top Africa women’s tournament a record 11 times.

17. 2000: Offoin Becomes First Nigerian Swimmer At The 2000 Olympics

Gentle Offoin qualified for the 2000 Olympic games and competed in the 100m freestyle event where he crashed out in the first round.

18. 2003: Enyimba Win The Elusive CAF Champions League Title

Enyimba FC of Aba won Nigeria’s first Champions League crown – the CAF Champions league in 2003. This trophy eluded Nigeria for 38 years, with three traditional teams Rangers FC, in 1975, Shooting Stars Sports Club [3SC], in 1984 and 1996, Iwuanyanwu Nationale [former Spartans of Owerri], in 1988 having come very close to ending the drought but all three teams were beaten in the competition’s final. Enyimba, coached by Kadiri Ikhana, beat Ismail of Egypt 2–1 on aggregate to end the jinx. They also retained the title in 2004.

19. 2006. Fasuba Breaks Frederick’s 100m Record

Olusoji Fasuba set a new 100m 9.85s record at the Doha Grand Prix in May 2006, thus breaking Frankie Fredericks’ record of 9.86 set in 1996.

20. 2007 & 2009: Nigeria Two-time African Beach Soccer Champions

Nigeria have won the Africa Beach Soccer Championship twice. The Sand Eagles won the tournament in 2007 and 2009. They were runners-up in 2006 and 2011. The team were bronze winners in 2015 and came fourth in 2013.

21. 2008: Samuel Peters Wins WBC heavyweight Title

Samuel Peter was one of the best boxers out of Nigeria. The whole country saw him win the WBC Heavyweight title in 2008, defeating Oleg Maskaev by TKO.

22. Beijing 2008 Olympics: Chukwumerije Wins Taekwondo Bronze At

Chika Yagazie Chukwumerije qualified for the 2008 Olympic Games and defeated Akmal Irgashev of Uzbekistan to win Nigeria’s first bronze medal in taekwondo at Beijing 200i Olympic Games.

23. 2008: Toriola Completes Seventh Consecutive Olympic Games Appearance

Segun Toriola, the grand-daddy of Nigerian table tennis, is the only African, and Nigerian, across all sports, to have taken part in seven different Olympic Games–from 1992 in Barcelona till the Beijing Olympics in 2008 where he achieved his best finish – progression to the third round. Toriola, now 46, was ranked the No.1 player in Africa for 10 consecutive years – between 1998 and 2008.

24. 2014: Quadri Named ITTF’s Best

Aruna Quadri was named the International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) star player in 2014. He was also voted the Best Male player ahead of then world number one, China’s Xu Xin.

25. 2015: Jighere Wins World Title In Scrabble

Nigeria’s Wellington Jighere won the Scrabble world title in 2015 and in the process became the first African player to be crowned World Scrabble Champion. He defeated Lewis MacKay in four straight rounds to win the inaugural WESPA Championship. Jighere is a two-time African Scrabble Champion and12-time national Champion.

26. 2015: D’Tigers Win FIBA Afrobasket title

The national male basketball team, D’Tigers won their first-ever FIBA Africa title in Tunisia in 2015. They defeated their perennial nemesis, Angola, 74-65 in the final.

27. 2015: Okagbare’s Makes Guinness Record Book With Appearances At Diamond League

In 2015, Blessing Okagbare recorded her name in the Guinness Book of Records for appearing in the Diamond League for the most times – 38, competing in the 100m, 200m, and long jump events

28. 2015: Nigeria’s Golden Eaglets Wins FIFA U-17 World Cup

The Golden Eaglets won the 2015 FIFA U-17 World Cup where they defeated Mali in the final. They also won the competitions in 1993, 2007, and 2013 respectively.

29. 2016 Rio Olympics Games: Kehinde Breaks Records

Paul Kehinde, a Nigerian Powerlifter, twice, broke the men’s 65kg World Record at the 2016 Rio Games, to win the gold medal. The Powerlifter lifted a whopping 220 kg to break the world record he held. He was decorated with the Member of the Order of the Niger [MON] award by the Nigerian government in 2016.

30. 2021: D’Tigress Are Third-Time FIBA AfroBasket Champions

D’Tigress became the second team in Africa to win three consecutive Women’s AfroBasket titles after Senegal did the same in the 70s. The Nigerian women emerged champions of Africa after they secured victory against Mali in the final match of the 2021 FIBA Women’s AfroBasket.

31. 2021: Bose Omolayo Bags Paralympic Gold Medalist

Omolayo had won gold at the Rio 2016 Paralympics. She won gold in the women’s 79kg powerlifting event at the Tokyo Paralympics.

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  • pompei 1 year ago

    6. 1980: Green Eagles Are AFCON Champions
    “Nigeria tasted the feeling of becoming champions as the Green Eagles defeated Morocco in the final of the Africa Cup of Nations in 1980 to win their first major senior title in football”.

    OOPS! NIGERIA DEFEATED ALGERIA, NOT MOROCCO! Mathematical go vex for you ooo!

  • pompei 1 year ago

    18. 1985: Golden Eaglets Win FIFA U-16 World Championship Title.
    “The Golden Eaglets, emerged the inaugural winners of the U-17 FIFA World Cup, known as FIFA/Kodak U-16 World Championship that held in China in 1985. The team coached by Sebastien Brodericks and Christian Chukwu beat Germany in the final 2-0, with goals from Babatunde Joseph and Jonathan Akpoborie”.