The 2022 Commonwealth Games held in Birmingham, United Kingdom, might have come and gone, but the pride and joy of the impressive performance of Nigeria’s athletes at the event remain fresh in the mind. Nigeria finished seventh on the medals table with 12 Gold, nine silver and 14 bronze medals in events such as weightlifting, athletics, para-athletics, powerlifting, wrestling, para-table tennis and boxing.
THIS feat made Nigeria the top African country on the medals table. The gold medal harvest is the biggest at a single Commonwealth Games for Nigeria ever.
IT is worthy of note that all the gold medalists from Nigeria were female athletes. Aside winning all of Nigeria gold medals, Nigerian women also accounted for four silver and seven bronze, totaling 23 medals won by women out of the 35 medals garnered by the team. The men won 12, that is, three silver and eight bronze medals.
ONE of the gold medalists, Tobi Amusan, won the 100m hurdles in 12.30 seconds, a game record. She also inspired Nigeria’s women relay team to win an elusive 4x100mrelay gold with a new African record of 42.10 seconds which erased the one-month-old42.22 seconds African record they set in Oregon, USA, at the World Athletics championships. Earlier, at the 2022 World Athletics Championship in Oregon, USA,
TOBI did not only win the 100 metres hurdles event but also created a world record with atime of 12.12s in the semi-finals. She blasted that record two hours later in a wind-aided time of 12.06s. That was the same Oregon where, some years ago, she was billed for the World Junior Athletics Championships but could not travel because of challenges withvisa.
ONDO State-born Odunayo Adekuoroye clinched gold in the women’s freestyle wrestling,57kg category. She had earlier won the prestigious medal at the Commonwealth Games in 2014 and 2018. At the 2015 World Wrestling Championships, she won a bronze medaland at the 2017 World Wrestling Championships, she won the silver medal in the women’s freestyle 55 kilogrammes. Another star performer for Nigeria, Blessing Oborududu, won gold in the 68kg women’s wrestling. The Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games silver medalist retained the gold medal she won at the last edition of the Games in Gold Coast, Australia.
LONG jumper, Ese Brume, secured another gold medal for Nigeria with a new games record of 7.00m, as she reclaimed the title she won eight years ago in Glasgow,Scotland. Ese first won the title in 2014 but was absent in the Gold Coast, Australia four years ago to defend her title. She won silver at the World Athletics
CHAMPIONSHIPS last month in Oregon, USA. Ese’s performance in Birmingham made her the second Nigerian track and field athlete in Commonwealth games history to win gold medal at two editions of the Games.
SHE is also the third Nigerian track and field athlete to win at least two gold medals at the Games, after Blessing Okagbare (100m and 200m in 2014) and Tobi Amusan (100m hurdles, 2018 and 2022 and 4x100m in 2022), as well as the second Nigerian woman to win the long jump gold medal after the legendary Modupe Oshikoya. Oshikoya won it in 1974 to become the first Nigerian woman to win a gold medal at the Games.
OSHIKOYA also won a total number of five gold medals at the All-Africa Games (1973 and 1978). No doubt, it was a successful outing for Team Nigeria at this year’s Commonwealth Games.
HOWEVER, The Hope notes that the performance could have been better if government had given more support to the team, notwithstanding the cash gifts of $5,000, $3,000 and $2,000 splashed on the gold, silver and bronze medalists respectively by the government.
THIS is because if government had invested more intraining and equipping the athletes before the tournament, more medals would have been won by them. Nevertheless, the performance showed the level of patriotism of the athletes, their willingness and ability to make necessary sacrifices and bring glory to the nation,with little or no support from government.
THE HOPE also notes that Nigeria has been underutilising her athletes which explains whya lot of Nigerians have been seen at various points in time flying the flags of other countries during major world tournaments, which can be attributed to the lethargic approach of the government to sports development.
THEREFORE, government needs todevelop sports in the country by investing enough resources to acquire the best of facilities available, improve on the ones we have already, train and retrain coaches, and also ensure that both athletes and officials get their entitlements promptly.
GOVERNMENT should also show more commitment towards regularly organising highly competitive tournaments through which talents can be hunted to represent us in subsequent completions, so that we can build on the foundation that has been laid by the Nigerian contingents at the just concluded Commonwealth Games in Birmingham. Sports development is a very viable way of empowering Nigerian youths and curbing the high rate of youth unemployment and criminality.
WE therefore charge government at all levels, NGOs and individuals to set up various sports academies for the purpose of discovering potential sports icons and sponsoring them to international competitions.
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