Team Nigeria, on Saturday, won a record 9th consecutive title in Women’s Wrestling at the African Championships, claiming 6 gold and 4 silver medals on a day that Commonwealth champions Odunayo Adekuoroye (57kg) and Blessing Oborududu (68kg) both rose to World No. 1 and 2 respectively in the global rankings.
Mercy Genesis (50kg), teen sensation Esther Kolawole (55kg), Adekuoroye, Bisola Makunjuola (59kg), Hannah Reuben (65kg) and Oborududu, who won a 10th straight African title in a row, were all impressive as they accounted for Nigeria’s gold medals, while defending champions Blessing Onyebuchi (76kg) and teenager Sunmisola Balogun, who moved up to 72kg from 65kg, as well as former champions Aminat Adeniyi (62kg) and Bose Samuel (53kg) settled for silver.
With the top ranking at stake, Adekuoroye made light work of her three opponents culminating in a 10-0 technical superiority victory against Egyptian No. 12 in the 59kg class Eman Ebrahim in the final, after beating same foe by pinfall in the opening round. The African Championship gold gave her 18pts, catapulting her to the top of the rankings at 57kg with 61 points, one clear of former No. 1 Kawai Risako of Japan (60pts). Risako can reclaim top spot during the Asian Championships later this month in India.
Oborududu, who began the year as No. 7 at 68kg, climbed to No. 3 with a bronze medal win at last month’s Matteo Pellicone Ranking Series tournament in Rome before coming to Algeria. And with emphatic 10-0 technical superiority wins against her four opponents – Drifa Arezki (Algeria), Anta Sambou (Senegal), Mona Reda Ahmed (Egypt) and Rihem Ayari (Tunisia) – she moved to a career-high 2nd in the rankings with 48points, 26 behind world champion Tamyra Mensah (USA) and 8 clear of Sweden’s Maria Fransson in third.
Following their impressive outing in Algiers, Team Nigeria Women retained the title they won last year with a staggering 230 points ahead of second-placed Tunisia (166pts) and Egypt, who finished 3rd with 164 points.
Attention will, on Sunday, shift to their five male counterparts, who will be competing in the Freestyle events on the final day of the competition.
Emmanuel Ogbonna John (74kg) is aiming to land a 4th straight African Championships gold, while veteran and Team captain Amas Daniel (65kg) will have to be on top of his game to clinch a 6th title, following his failure to do so last year in Tunisia.
Former champions Soso Tamarau (97kg), Welson Ebikewenimo (57kg) and Ekerekeme Agiomor (86kg) will be hoping to bring glory to Team Nigeria as well.