The much anticipated World Para Powerlifting Invitational Competition finally got underway on Monday at the Oriental Hotel Lagos with Nigeria’s representatives raking in eighteen of the twenty medals available in five weight categories for men and women.
The competition which is the first of its kind to be hosted in Nigeria had seventy nine athletes from seven African countries register to compete. Hosts Nigeria registered the highest number of athletes with 52 in total (24 men and 28 women). Five athletes are representing Ghana (3 men and 2 women), 6 for Cameroon (4 men and 2 women), 4 for Guinea (3 men and 1 woman), Tanzania and Cote d’Ivoire both have 5 athletes in the competition (3 men and 2 women) while the Central African Republic had 2 male athletes registered for the competition.
With such a large contingent, the Nigerian athletes were essentially competing against themselves and it was therefore not surprising that they dominated every category on opening day winning a total of 8 gold medals, 6 silver medals and 4 bronze medals in the senior and junior categories for men and women.
Nigeria’s Loveth Abokin led the gold rush with a lift of 93kg to clinch gold in the senior women’s up to 45kg class. The Edo state born 2018 National Sports Festival (NSF) silver medallist failed to clear 87kg on her first attempt but lifted 93kg at the first attempt before getting stumped at 105kg. Ajiboye Rukayat lifted 93kg but had to settle for silver on account of weighing slightly more than Abokin. Onyebueke Chinonso completed the all Nigerian podium with a lift of 80kg for bronze.
In the senior women’s up to 41kg, 2018 National Sports Festival silver medallist Nworgu Esther competing in her first ever international event and second ever competition took gold with a lift of 95kg. Ihuoma Lucy won silver for Nigeria with a lift of 85kg while Cote d’Ivoire’s Kouadio Akissi Michelle settled for bronze with a lift of 67kg.
2012 Paralympics champion Yakub Adesokan won gold for Nigeria in the senior men’s up to 49kg with a lift of 180kg. Ugwu Emmanuel Omale and Istifanus Punshak took silver and bronze with lifts of 150kg and 121kg respectively for an all Nigerian podium.
Osewa Oluwatoyosi put up a master class to take gold in the senior women’s up to 50kg. The 2018 NSF gold medallist lifted 105kg to edge out Nnadi Happiness who lifted 102kg. Cameroon’s Suzanne Menye Meto took bronze with a lift of 76kg.
2018 Commonwealth gold medallist Esther Oyema put her disappointing outing at the 2018 NSF behind her to win gold in the senior women’s up to 55kg. Her lift of 125kg couldn’t be bettered by exciting prospect Onyinyechi Mark who took silver with a lift of 115kg. Ifeoluwa Alake finished in third place with a lift of 80kg.
In the Juniors, Istifanus Punshak, Abokin Loveth and Onyinyechi Mark all took gold medals in their respective categories while Ajiboye Rukayat and Onyebueke Chinonso won silver and bronze respectively.
The competition continues today at the Oriental Hotel with athletes set to compete in the men’s up to 54kg, 59kg, 65kg and 72kg classes and the women’s up to 61kg, 67kg and 73kg classes.