Eight of Team Nigeria’s total of fifteen medals (4 Gold, 7 Silver, 4 Bronze) won on Wednesday were contributed by Weightlifters as the country moved up one spot to third on the medals table of the ongoing 12th African Games in Rabat, Morocco.
There were also medals in athletics and gymnastics to take the country’s total medal count to 64 (24 Gold, 20 Silver, 20 Bronze) after 13 days of competition in Africa’s version of the Olympics.
African Champion in the women’s 100m hurdles Tobi Amusan lived up to her favourite tag as she erased Glory Alozie’s 20-year old record of 12.74secs to set a new Games Record of 12.68secs on her way to gold in the Women’s 100m Hurdles. Compatriot Grace Ayemoba was fourth in 13.46secs while Ruth Kemi Francis did not start her race.
In the Men’s 400m, Chidi Okezie crossed the line in a time of 45.61secs to win bronze while compatriot Emmanuel Ojeli was sixth in 46.05secs. Botswana’s Leungo Scotch took gold in a time of 45.27secs while Thapelo Phora was second in 45.59secs.
There was silver for Nigeria in the Women’s category as Favour Ofili surged home to second place in 51.68secs. Botswana’s Galefele Moroko took gold in 51.30secs while Grace Obour of Ghana finished in third place in 51.86secs to take bronze. Nigeria’s other representative in the event OKon Patience George was fifth in 52.18secs.
In the relays, the quartet of Joy Udo-Gabriel, Mercy Ntia-Obong, Adekunle Jasper and Rosemary Chukwuma were unstoppable as they obliterated the rest of the field in the Women’s 4x100m relay final to win gold in a time of 44.16secs. South Africa and Kenya settled for silver and bronze respectively.
The men’s team of Raymond Ekevwo, Divine Oduduru, Emmanuel Arowolo and Usheoritse Itsekiri could not match their female compatriots as they settled for silver with a time of 38.59secs. Ghana won gold while South Africa finished in third place to claim bronze.
Kelechi Nwanagu made it back-to-back gold medals in the Women’s Javelin Throw as her mark of 55.88m proved unbeatable for the South African pair of Joan Van Dyk (55.38m) and Sunette Viljoen (53.44) who settled for silver and bronze respectively.
In Gymnastics, Eke Uche Devon took gold in the Men’s Pommel Horse ahead of Algeria’s Mohamed Aouicha (silver) and Wissem Hanzi of Tunisia (bronze).
In Weightlifting, Egyptian athletes proved hard to displace as they took gold in all the categories.
There was still joy for Nigeria as Caroline Oko-Uokha won silver in the women’s 71kg (224kg), Clean-Jerk (116kg) and Snatch (95kg) categories.
Dickson Seldom also claimed a hat-trick of medals taking bronze in the Men’s 81kg (324kg), Snatch (146kg) and Clean-Jerk (178kg). Desmond Akano grabbed a double silver in the men’s 89kg Snatch (149kg) and Clean-Jerk (180kg) class.
More prospects of medals await in the Male Table Tennis singles with a Nigerian guaranteed of a finals spot after the trio of Segun Toriola, Olajide Omotayo and Quadri Aruna all progressed to the semifinals on Wednesday. Seven-time Olympian Toriola will face Omotayo in an all Nigerian last four while Quadri sets up a mouthwatering clash against long-time rival Omar Assar for a place in the final.
In the women’s Table Tennis singles, Offiong Edem made it through to the semifinal after she defeated Egypt’s Reem El-Eraky 4-1 but veteran Funke Oshonaike was not as lucky as she lost in the quarterfinals to Egypt’s Farah Abdelaziz.
Juwon Opeyori will have a chance of adding to Team Nigeria’s gold medal total after a straight sets victory over Owen Mulenga of Zambia in the Badminton men’s singles semifinals. He will face Paul Georges Julien of Mauritius who prevented an all Nigerian final by downing Godwin Olofua in the semifinals.
Dorcas Adesokan will also play in the final of the women’s Badminton singles after she saw off Egypt’s Hany Doha 2-0, 2-0 in the semifinal and just like in the men’s draw, an all Nigerian final was prevented after youngster Sofiat Obanishola lost her semifinal match to South Africa’s Johanita Scholtz.
Nigeria’s presence is also registered in the final of the women and men’s doubles as the duo Adesokan and Deborah Ukeh saw off South Africa’s Meghan De Beer and Juanita Sholtzt while Opeyori combined with Godwin Olofua to beat Egypt’s Mostafa Kamel and Abdel Hakim in straight sets.
Nigeria’s women Volleyball team are also through to the final after they dispatched their Kenyan counterparts 3-0.
The country didn’t fare as well in Boxing as the quartet of Temitayo Osoba, Morenikeji Oriyomi, Keji Tijani and Esther Adejumola all lost their semifinal bouts in the women’s Featherweight (57kg), Flyweight (51kg), Lightweight (60kg) respectively. However, Temitope Shogbamu beat Cape Verde’s Ivanusa Moreira to progress to the final of the women’s Welterweight category (69kg).
In the men’s draw Ayoola Osoba is through to the final of the Men’s Welterweight (69kg) after he outclassed Mogunde Maina of Kenya but compatriot Solomon Adebayo lost his Super Heavyweight (91kg) semifinal bout against Yousny Hafeez of Egypt.
In Handball, Nigeria’s women’s team beat Kenya 31-27 in their 9-10 classification match while their male counterparts saw off Guinea 23-17 in their 5-8 classification match.
After 13 days of competition, Egypt still sit pretty on top the medals table with a total medals haul of 177 (59 Gold, 74 Silver, 44 Bronze). South Africa are in second place with a total of 66 medals (27 Gold, 21 Silver, 18 Bronze), Nigeria complete the top three having amassed a total of 64 medals (24 Gold, 20 Silver, 20 Bronze).