Team Nigeria athletes put up amazing last minute displays, carting home nine medals — four gold and five silver — few hours to the end of the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, Scotland.
Nigeria is placed eighth on the medal table with 11 gold, 11 silver and 14 bronze.
Seventh-placed South Africa are Africa’s number one team on the table with 13 gold, 10 silver and 16 bronze.
The country’s athletes in the Para-sport power-lifting event led the resurgence in style on Saturday night, with Loveline Obiji, who competed in the women’s heavyweight category, and Esther Oyema (women’s lightweight), setting world records respectively on their way to winning gold medals in their various events.
Oyema raised a bar of 126kg for a new world record, while the 23-year-old Obiji recorded a best lift of 144.0kg to set the record in her weight category.
Interestingly, Obiji had thought her world record effort and her gold had been nullified after a red flag was raised, but her frown turned to a huge smile, when she was certified the undisputed winner of the event.
Another Nigerian Bose Omolayo, came second behind Obiji, ahead of third-place Kenya’s Joyce Wambui Njuguna.
Abdulazeez Ibrahim also won gold in the men’s Heavyweight Group A, lifting a total weight of 197.0kg, to brush aside his opponents from India and Malaysia.
In the men’s lightweight Group A category, 26-year-old Paul Kehinde emerged victorious ahead of compatriot, Rolland Ezuruike, who settled for a silver medal.
The country’s women claimed silver in the 4x400m event in a time of 3:24.71 at the Hampden Park Stadium. Jamaica won the race with a new Games record of 3:23.82 while England were third in 3:27.24secs. But Nigeria’s men 4x400m team finished in a disappointing seventh position. Usain Bolt was the star man as Jamaica won the 4x100m relay, in a Games record time of 37.58 ahead of England 38.02 and third-placed Trinidad & Tobago 38.10. Nigeria came sixth in 40.17secs.
Tosin Oke won a silver in the men’s triple jump.
Meanwhile, Sports Minister, Dr. Tammy Danagogo, has hailed the country’s star of the championship, Blessing Okagbare, and other athletes for putting up a fantastic outing in Glasgow.
Okagbare’s 100m and 200m gold ensured she became Nigeria’s first-ever athlete to achieve the feat at the Games. She could not complete a gold treble as Nigeria’s women 4x100m team came second 42.92 behind the Jamaican ladies, who set a new Games record 41.83.
“Okagbare has shown that with determination you can achieve your dream in whatever endeavour you set out for yourself. She has been consistent over the years and has remained focused despite missing the ultimate medal in some competitions before now,” the minister said.
“I want to congratulate the other medalists for their effort and hope that they will build on their successes in Glasgow for future competitions especially as we begin preparations for the 2016 Olympic Games.” Danagogo added
Danagogo, was however heartbroken after teenage weightlifter, Chika Amalaha, was stripped of her gold medal after failing a dope test, but promised to take appropriate action.
Amalaha’s A and B samples contained prohibited diuretics Amiloride and Hydrochlorothiazide. She was disqualified from her event and her result in the women’s weightlifting 53kg nullified. Her gold medal was awarded to Dika Toua from Papua New Guinea.
Danagogo said, “My heart bleeds for this 16-year-old girl. She looks too innocent to commit such an offence. She is naive. We must get to the root of this. The coaches and our anti-doping officials have questions to answer. Why didn’t they do their jobs before coming here to disgrace Nigeria?
“It’s disappointing that we have highly placed anti-doping officials who did not do their jobs. It is embarrassing and severe punishments will be meted out to those officials either for their involvement or negligence, as a deterrent,” he explained.
A former Head of State, General Yakubu Gowon (retd.), applauded Team Nigeria for their fine outing, describing them as the ‘Pride of the Nation.’
“I’m impressed with the performance of Team Nigeria at the Games,” Gowon said in Glasgow.
“In a multi sports event like this with 71 countries participating, it is a thing of joy to see your country’s contingent doing well and also hearing your national anthem playing and your flag flying high. They have done well and deserve applause from us all,”he explained.