It was not entirely smooth-sailing for the Nigerian contingent to the 20th Commonwealth Games, which ended on Sunday. But a rash of heroes scaled the proverbial hurdles to equal the country’s best ever gold medal haul at the games.
Despite dealing with the psychological trauma of having one of their own – weightlifter Chika Amalaha – fail a dope test; issues with shoddy kit provision (at one powerlifting medal presentation where Nigeria won gold and silver the two athletes wore non-identical jackets; one predominantly white, the other all-green) and the shooting team attending but not competing because of a lack of equipment, Team Nigeria stood tall and made their country proud.
By Saturday when the country had effectively finished its participation in the games, the medal count stood at an impressive 11 gold, 11 silver and 14 bronze courtesy of athletes who gave their all in the cause of their country.
Heroes and heroines in athletics, wrestling, boxing, table tennis, weightlifting and powerlifting all defied the odds and stood up to be counted.
From track heroine and probably the star of the games, Blessing Okagbare, who claimed two individual gold medals and a relay silver, to the men’s table tennis team who won a silver medal, Complete Sports here celebrates all the TEAM NIGERIA HEROES AND HEROINES…
BLESSING OKAGBARE (100m,200m):
Okagbare set a new 10.85 seconds Games record on her way to becoming the second Nigerian woman to win the blue ribband title after Mary Onyali who won in 1994 in Victoria,Canada.
She also became the fourth woman in Games history to successfully complete a sprints double with her victory in the 200m (22.99).That win made her the first Nigerian sprinter,man or woman to win the half lap title.
She also became the first Nigerian to win two individual titles at the Games in track and field.Only Onyali had prior to Glasgow won two titles at the same Games-viz an individual title in the 100m and a team title as a member of the 4x100m relay team.The team was made up of Christy Opara-Thompson,Faith Idehen,Onyali and Mary Tombiri.
ESE BRUME (Long Jump):
It took all of 40 years for Nigeria to get a second gold medal in the long jump after the irrepresible Modupe Oshikoya first won it in 1974 in Christchurch,New Zealand.Oshikoya leapt a distance of 6.46m to win what also was the first gold medal by a Nigerian woman in the history of the Games.Junior international,Brume was however an unlikely winner after failing to jump beyond a mediocre 5.18m at the IAAF World Junior Championships which ended a week earlier in Oregon,USA.The former University of Benin undergraduate student however surprised all by leaping to a 6.56m to win the gold.It was Nigeria’s fifth women’s medal in the sport after Violet Odogwu made history in 1966 by winning a bronze medal (6.15m) which tuned out to be Africa’s first field event medal by a woman.
TOSIN OKE (Triple Jump):
Former British junior international Oke failed to defend his title in Glasgow afer hopping to gold (17.22m) four years earlier in New Delhi, India.
His personal season’s best effort of 16.84m was not good enough to dislodge South Africa’s Khotso Mokoena who hopped,stepped and jumped a distance of 17.20m in his second round effort.
The quartet of Gloria Asumnu, Patience George, Blessing Okagbare and Lawreta Ozoh failed to match the golden efforts of the quartet of Christy Opara-Thompson,Faith Idehen,Mary Onyali and Mary Tombiri who raced to the title in 1994 in Victoria,Canada in 42.99 seconds.The Okagbare-led team was not in the class of the Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pyrce-inspired Jamaican team who set a new Games record.The Nigerian team had to settle for a silver medal finish. The
team however ran Nigeria’s fastest time ever in the event (42.92).
Nigeria’s bid for a first ever gold medal in this event was truncated by Jamaica who showed pure class to claim the title in Glasgow (3:23.82).The Nigerian team led by reigning national champion,Folasade Abugan however picked Nigeria’s first silver medal in the event with their 3.24.71 performance.Regina George ran the fastest split (50.8) among the quartet.She was followed by third leg runner,Ada Benjamin who impressed with 51.06.Anchor-leg runner,Abugan came in third with 51.07 while Patienece Okon who ran the second leg ran the slowest split (51.7).
MARYAM USMAN (+75kg):
After venturing into weightlifting in 2007, Maryam Usman seems to have achieved a life-long ambition of winning laurels for Nigeria as she won a gold medal in the women’s +75kg weightlifting event in Glasgow, Scotland.
With a lift of 280kg, Usman who bore the Team Nigeria flag at the opening ceremony of the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games, beat Samoa’s Ele Opeloge who lifted 271kg, to second place, while the bronze medal went to Tracey Lambrechs of New Zealand after her effort of 237kg.
OLUWATOYIN ADESANMI (63kg):
Just like Usman, Oluwatoyin Adesanmi added another gold medal for Team Nigeria also in women’s weightlifting in the 63kg category. She emerged victorious after lifting 207kg to beat fellow Nigerian Obioma Okoli to second place.
The bronze medal went to India’s Punam Yadav with a lift of 202kg.
WINIFRED NDIDI (58kg):
Competing in the women’s 58kg category, Winifred Ndidi could not match the effort of Usman and Adesanmi as she finished second behind Zoe Smith of England who grabbed the gold with an effort of 210kg.
Ndidi’s performance of 206kg was enough to earn her the silver medal while Michaela Breeze of Wales won bronze with a lift of 202kg.
ITOHAN EBIREGUESELE (69kg):
Kick-starting her weightlifting career in Ubiaja, Edo state, in 2003, Itohan Ebireguesele should be proud of her achievement as she won a silver medal for Team Nigeria in the women’s 69kg.
Ebireguesele’s lift of 222kg was not enough to fetch her the gold which went to Cameroon’s Marie Fegue after she powered away wit a lift of 234kg. Canada’s Marie-Josee Ares-Pilon claimed the bronze with her effort of 214kg.
OBIOMA OKOLI (63kg):
With former Nigerian weightlifter Sunday Mathias as her hero, and beginning her career in Akure, Obioma Okoli won silver in the women’s 63kg despite finishing level with compatriot Oluwatoyin Adesanmi on 207kg.
Both Nigerian lifetrs finished above Punam Yadav of India (202kg).
NKECHI OPARA (48kg):
Nkechi Opara was the only Nigerian woman lifter who won a bronze medal at the Glasgow games in the 48kg class after she did 162kg which was way off the gold winning feat of Sanjita Khumukchan of India who did 173kg.
Her compatriot Mirabai Chanu Saikhom landed the silver medal following her lift of 170kg.
YINKA AYENUWA (69kg):
The only male lifter who made it to the podium for Team Nigeria in the weightlifting event was Yinka Ayenuwa in the 69kg weight category where he won a silver medal.Ayenuwa’s lift of 301kg made sure Team Nigeria’s male lifters did not return home empty handed following the exploits of the country’s female lifters.
The gold was won by Mohd Hafifi Mansor of Malaysia whose 305kg was good enough to finish ahead of Ayenuwa and Omkar Otari of India who took bronze with a 296kg effort.
ABDULAZEEZ IBRAHIM (heavyweight):
Competing in the men’s heavyweight group A category, Abdulazeez Ibrahim beat off competition from the duo of Rajinder Rahelu and Jong Yee Khie from India and Malaysia respectively to land the gold medal.
Ibrahim made a lift of 197.0kg to emerge winner to increase Team Nigeria’s medal haul. Rahelu lifted 180.5kg and Yee Khie, 178.0kg.
LOVELINE OBIJI (61.1kg heavyweight):
Loveline Obiji emulated the feat of Abdulazeez Ibrahim as she won gold in the women’s heavyweight 61.1kg category.
She carted away the gold medal with a lift of 122.4kg to register her name on the exclusive list of gold medalists.
PAUL KEHINDE (72kg lightweight):
Keeping to the tradition of Nigeria’s strong reputation in powerlifting, Paul Kehinde won a gold medal for Team
Nigeria in the men’s lightweight 72kg group A. He achieved the feat after lifting 221.0kg to finish ahead of
compatriot Rolland Ezuruike and England’s Ali Jawad.
ESTHER OYEMA (61kg lightweight);
Esther Oyema made sure Nigeria completed a clean sweep of all the weight category when she won the gold medal in
the women’s lightweight 61kg. Oyema did 136.0kg to land the gold medal, beating Natalie Blake (100.2kg) and India’s
Sakina Khafun (88.2kg).
BOSE OMOLAYO (61.1kg heavyweight):
Bose Omolayo could only settle for the silver medal as she was beaten to the gold medal by compatriot Loveline Obiji in the women’s heavyweight 61.1kg. Omolayo’s 113.4kg effort was only good enough for second position while Joyce Wambiu Njuguma of Kenya got bronze.
ROLLAND EZURUIKE (72kg lightweight):
And just like in the women’s heavyweight category where the gold and silver medals were won by Obiji and Omolayo, Rolland Ezuruike finished behind Paul Kehinde after his 220.2kg lift. The third spot went to England’s Ali Jawad following his 209.4kg.
In women’s freestyle category, Nigeria’s Odunayo Adekuoroye started the country’s medal haul with a gold winning performance in the 53kg to open the wrestlers’ impressive performance in the game.
It was a commendable feat other wrestlers emulated and luckily put the wrestling athletes on the medal list at the end of the games.
Aminat quickly realized that emulating Odunayo will help her to increase the country’s medal haul at the games, she therefore went all out to give her best in the 58kg and the effort paid off when she mounted the podium to be awarded the gold medal as the entire stadium stood to sing Nigeria’s anthem in recognition of her performance in the event.It was a performance that gave other wrestlers the needed confidence that Nigeria can at least win a bronze in each of the categories it took part in at the games.
Nigeria got the first bronze medal when Ifeoma Nwoye competed in the 55kg and got beaten to both the gold and silver medals but had to settle for the third place. The performance was hailed by the officials who had expected the athlete to go beyond that level. Ifeoma it would be recalled had an impressive outing during the qualifying round but failed to clinch the gold at the world stage but with her age, the future looks bright for the young athlete.
BLESSING OBORODUDU (63kg)
Blessing stepped out to contribute her quota but could not see the gold medal after losing the main fight to settle for the bronze in the 63kg category. It was a feat that signified that the wrestler could do more in future following her performance at the Glasgow games. Competing in the 63kg event was a tough category but the Nigerian still put in all effort to ensure she return with the bronze.
HANNAH REUBEN (69kg)
Nigeria Wrestling Federation president Daniel Igali had sounded before the game that Hanna is one of the young athletes that will make the Glasgow games tick and so and behold, she did her best to win bronze in the 69kg where the likes of Australia, India, Cameroun and many other countries all competed. And mounting the podium to receive her bronze medal in Glasgow was a moment the athlete will never forget in her career.
Competing in the 75kg was the biggest challenge Nigerian women wrestlers faced at the 20th Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, being one of the most difficult categories but Blessing gave her best to put her name on the medal table as she fought hard to win bronze in the women’s freestyle category. It was the last medal the Nigerian women wrestlers won at the games and the efforts have been praised as it looked an improvement on their previous performance at the games.
EBIKEWEMINIMO WELSON (57kg)
The men’s wrestling event saw Ebikeweminomo commencing Nigeria’s medal search in the freestyle 57kg category with focus on the gold but could only settle down for the silver having met tough opponents in the battle for the top position. His performance was quite better than not winning anything in the wrestling event.
AMAS DANIEL (61kg)
Amas is one the Team Nigerian athletes that have been consistent of recent as he has competed in several championships in the African and filling out to compete in the 61kg of the freestyle event was all the platform he needed to prove what he was capable of doing again but the stiff competition he met in the category could not see him perform better than the bronze.
This category is by far a stage many Nigerian wrestlers have excelled in at previous games and coming to win bronze in Glasgow is not a surprise.
SAMPSON CLARKSON (65kg)
Another bronze medal was recorded in the 65kg men’s freestyle by Sampson Clarkson to make it second bronze for the wrestlers but the gold medal stage still remain elusive to the Nigerians. Sampson is not really one of the athletes that have gained much exposure in the sport but his performance at the Glasgow games had confirmed that even at the next Olympic Games in Rio, he would be one of the forces to reckon with in the wrestling event.
MELVIN BIBO (74kg)
Melvin’s effort in the 74kg could only be rewarded with a bronze medal. Competing in the freestyle event was also a familiar event to the Nigerian wrestler but his effort could not just see him winning either of the gold or the silver medal.But beating the likes of Cameroun, Germany and Australia to the bronze was an effort that was praised by the Nigerian officials.
Theb 86kg weight is another tough category in the wrestling event where Nigeria’s Andrew Dick had to face some of the best wrestlers in the world but his effort was good enough to fetch the country a silver medal. Andrew who graduated from the lower category to compete in the 86kg is the second wrestler in the men’s category to win silver.It was a performance that earned him handsome amount from the sports ministry.
SINIVIE BOLTIC (125kg)
This is regarded as the toughest category in the wresting freestyle event but with a good effort, Sinivie was able to return with a bronze medal.He competed in the 125kg category which could only fetch him bronze as the Nigerian men’s wrestler can only boast of four bronze and two silver medals at the end of the wrestling event of the 20th Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, Scotland.
Team Nigeria’s overall performance may have equaled Nigeria’s best ever at the Commonwealth games, but the boxing team’s medals haul of three bronze medals gave little cheer.Though the team surpassed the effort of the New Delhi team, expectations were not met and the team inadequacies were exposed.
The captain of the team led by example by winning a bronze through individual skill alone!
The Mexico-based boxer who is on the payroll of Delta State Sports Commission fell back
on the experience he has gathered in the World Boxing Series where he currently plies his
trade with Mexico Gurreros to hang on for a place on the podium.
Apochi’s bronze is his first ever for Nigeria having failed to medal at the last World
championships in Almaty last year.
Efe Ajagba (+91kg)
The only other male bronze medal winner achieved what most other members of the team could
not achieve at first attempt.
Glasgow was the first international for Ajagba and his combative style rather than tactics
saw him through to the semi final.
EDITH AGU OGOKE (75kg)
For Edith Agu Ogoke, it was only a matter of time for her to win a medal in Nigeria’s
colours.At the female World Boxing Championships in China before 2012 Olympics, Ogoke fought to the quarter final stage before losing out, the same fate befell her at the Olympics where she similarly crashed in the quarters, missing the podium on both cases by whiskers.
She finally got a bronze at Glasgow for her effort and years of toll.
While Oto Joseph and Sikiru Ojo could be excused for lack of experience, the same cannot be
said for Lukmon Lawal, Kehinde Ademuyiwa and Waheed Sogbamu. These trio were at the last
games in India where they didn’t perform. They have no excuse for their mediocre showing
The boxing team could have done better with better training methods, proper coaching and
TEAM EVENT (Men):
Nigeria’s table tennis team returned to the podium at the 2014 Glasgow Commonwealth Games
after defeating India 3-1 to claim the bronze medal in the men’s team event.
It might not have been gold, but Ojo Onaolapo was so delighted with his bronze medal at
the Commonwealth Games he pulled his shorts down.
In 2010 in Delhi, Team Nigeria failed to win any medal in table tennis having been a
regular medal winning team since table tennis became part of the Commonwealth Games in
At the conclusion of the event, the 19-year-old rolled onto his back in delight before
being carried around the Scotstoun Sports Campus venue by his team-mates.
Nigeria female team table tennis players except Ganiat Ogundele all crashed out of the
main draw event in Glasgow.
Edem Offiong, who promised to win gold, was knocked out while in the women’s doubles when
the pair of Funke Oshonaike and Cecilia Otu-Akpan were beaten 3-0 by Malaysia’s duo of Lee
Beh and Sock Ng.
SINGLES EVENT (Women)
In the singles, Edem Offiong, who had boasted that she would win gold, was bundled out by
Joanna Drinkhall in the round of 64 (main draw).
The most disappointing aspect of thedefeat was that the game ended in a 4-0 bashing of the African champion by the English lady. Otu-Akpan suffered the same fate at the hands of Singapore’s Taiwei Feng; also in the main draw.
Ogundele, who also made it to the main draw after recording 100 per cent in the
preliminary round, fought hard against India’s Shamini Kumaresan. Despite her efforts, she
surrendered to the Indian in the seventh game to exit the competition at 4-3.
What should have been a consolation for the female team also disappeared into thin air, as
the duo of Oshonaike and Aruna Quadri, was booted out by Singapore in the mixed doubles.
The women’s team failed to make it beyond the knockout stage in the team event, where
their male counterparts clinched bronze.
Since the inclusion of table tennis at the Commonwealth Games, the female team has not
made any meaningful impact like their male counterparts.