Thursday, April 18, 2024

Profiles: Nigeria’s Gold Medalists At African Games In Ghana

The 13th African Games  saw Team Nigeria deliver an impressive performance, securing second place in the overall medal count. Nigeria’s athletes earned an inspiring 47 gold medals. As the nation celebrates this success, PREMIUM TIMES highlights all the country’s gold medalists from the Games.

Arm Wrestling

Sarah Matthew (Age: 17, Women’s Left and Right Arm: 70kg):

At just 17, Sarah is already establishing her presence, securing two gold medals for Nigeria in Ghana. She was one of Nigeria’s youngest athletes at the Games and exhibits promising potential to excel on the global stage. Sarah’s triumphs came in both the left and right arm women’s 70kg categories, showcasing her remarkable talent and determination.

Mausi Zannu (Age: 21; Women’s left and right arms, 55kg)

At 21, Zannu made an indelible mark on African sports history by securing Nigeria’s inaugural gold medal in the arm wrestling competition at the 13th African Games in Ghana. Zannu’s victory showcased her exceptional skill, strength, and unwavering determination, earning her the coveted gold medal.

Olubisi Oyewusi (Age: 29, Women’s Left and Right Arm 80kg):

Oyewusi, the captain of Nigeria’s arm wrestling team, demonstrated exceptional leadership by securing a gold medal in her event. The journey to gold was challenging, requiring Oyewusi to defeat two Ghanaian opponents before ultimately prevailing against an Egyptian competitor in the final. Her determination and skill were evident throughout, culminating in a well-deserved victory.

Athletics

Chidi Okezie (Age: 30, Men’s 400m)

Since becoming part of the Nigerian team in 2016, Okezie has been relentlessly pursuing his goal of becoming a continental champion. That moment finally arrived in Ghana, where he delivered an impressive performance in the men’s 400m final, sprinting to a Personal Best (PB) time of 45.06 seconds.

Chidi Okezie finally wins an individual gold after many years of misses and near misses...[PHOTO CREDIT: MakingofChampions]
Chidi Okezie finally wins an individual gold after many years of misses and near misses…[PHOTO CREDIT: MakingofChampions]

In Ghana, Okezie achieved a remarkable victory by defeating Muzala Samukonga from Zambia, one of the world’s fastest men over this distance, to secure the gold medal. Okezie’s accomplishment marked the first time in 37 years that a Nigerian man had won the African Games 400m men’s gold.

Nnamdi Chinecherem (Age: 21, Men’s Javelin Throw)

Chinecherem did not just win gold in the men’s javelin throw at the African Games; he did so in record-breaking fashion with a Personal Best (PB) of 82.80 meters, which is a new national record. He is proudly Nigeria’s first African Games men’s javelin throw gold medalist in 29 years.

Chukwuebuka Enekwechi (Age: 31, Men’s Shot Put)

A favourite going into Ghana, Enekwechi lived up to the billing by successfully defending the title he won in Rabat five years earlier. Enekwechi secured Nigeria’s first gold medal in athletics at the 13th African Games; a feat that saw him become the first Nigerian man to successfully defend a Shot Put title at the African Games.

Tobi Amusan (Age: 26; Women’s 100m hurdles and Women’s 4x100m relay)

Amusan emerged as one of the standout stars who brought prestige to the African Games in Ghana. As a former world champion and the current world record holder, she embarked on a determined mission and executed it flawlessly.

Tobi Amusan, 100m hurdle race world champion and record holder [PHOTO: TW @Evaglobal01]
Tobi Amusan, 100m hurdle race world champion and record holder [PHOTO: TW @Evaglobal01]

She recorded a time of 12.89 seconds in Ghana, securing victory in the 100m hurdles and achieving a remarkable feat of winning three consecutive African Games gold medals, a first in Games history. She then played a pivotal role in leading the women’s 4x100m relay team to gold, resulting in her accumulating four gold medals across three appearances at the African Games.

Obiageri Amaechi (Age 25, Women’s Discus Throw)

A newly minted champion for Nigeria, Amaechi secured the top spot in the women’s Discus Throw. On her last throw, she soared to victory with an impressive Personal Best (PB) of 58.93m, clinching the coveted gold medal.

Ese Brume (Age 28, Women’s Long Jump)

Considered one of Nigeria’s most reliable medal contenders, Brume lived up to that reputation in Ghana. The soft-spoken jumper successfully defended her long jump title, leaping to a distance of 6.92m (+3.9m/s).

Unfortunately, the strong tailwind prevented this distance from being a record. Notably, Brume became the second Nigerian woman, after Modupe Oshikoya (1973 and 1978), to win consecutive long jump titles at the African Games.

Usoro Ruth (Age 26, Women’s Triple Jump)

Ruth had a memorable African Games debut, grabbing the gold medal in the Triple Jump event. With a winning leap of 13.80m, she became the third Nigerian woman (after Rosa Collins in 1995 and Grace Anigbata in 2019) to win a triple jump title at the Games. This distance also equalled the altitude-aided winning mark set by Collins 29 years earlier.

Emmanuel Ojeli (Age 25, Men’s 4x400m mixed relay)

A bronze medalist in the 4x400m men’s relay at the 2019 African Games, Ojeli had a golden moment in Ghana. He contributed significantly to Nigeria’s victory in the Mixed Relay, helping set a new African record in the process.

Adeyemi Sikiru (Age 25, Men’s 4x400m Mixed Relay)

While Adeyemi did not win an individual medal, he emerged as the Men’s 400m Champion at the national trials leading up to the African Games. He then played a crucial role in Nigeria’s record-breaking triumph in the 4x400m Mixed Relay.

Commonwealth Games: Nigeria's 4x100m women's relay team
Commonwealth Games: Nigeria’s 4x100m women’s relay team

Patience Okon-George (Age 32, 4x400m Mixed Relay, Women’s 4x400m Relay)

In what might be her final African Games appearance, the veteran Okon-George delivered a powerful performance. She helped Nigeria retain her title in the 4x400m relay and added the Mixed Relay gold to her impressive collection.

Omolara Ogunmakinju (Age 30, 4x400m Mixed Relay, Women’s 4x400m Relay)

After taking a hiatus to raise her two children, this mother made a remarkable comeback to the track. Her performance was truly memorable as she anchored Nigeria’s Mixed Relay team to a sensational victory against all expectations.

Her awe-inspiring effort, which involved closing a nearly 40m gap, earned her the moniker of “miracle worker” for transforming silver into gold for Nigeria. Ogunmakinju also achieved gold in the 4x400m relay event.

Esther Elo Joseph (Age 21, Women’s 400m, Women’s 4x400m Relay)

Elo Joseph emerged as one of the most impressive revelations for Nigeria at the Games, and her name is certainly one to remember. Setting three Personal Bests in as many races, she appears destined for greatness.

In all of her 400m races in Ghana, she clocked sub-52 second times, culminating in a silver medal – a first major championship medal for Nigeria – with a new PB of 51.64 seconds. She also secured gold with the 4x400m relay team.

Brittany Ogunmokun (Age 33, 4x400m Mixed Relay, Women’s 4x400m Relay, Women’s 400m)

After five years of serving in the US military, Ogunmokun returned to the tracks and chose to represent Nigeria. In her African Games debut, she was part of the gold-winning 4x400m women’s team. Ogunmokun aims to improve her race times as she seeks a bigger challenge at the Paris Olympics.

Israel Okon (Age 17, Men’s 4x100m Relay)

This young sprinter was part of the victorious 4x100m men’s relay team.

Consider Ekanem (Age 19, 4x100m Relay)

Ekanem narrowly missed the podium in the 100m and secured a bronze medal in the 200m. He then played a key role in helping Nigeria overcome Ghana’s potent challenge of winning the 4x100m gold medal.

Alaba Akintola (Age 22, 4x100m Relay)

Akintola was part of the winning quartet in the 4x100m men’s event.

Usheoritse Itsekiri (Age 26, Men’s 4x100m Relay)

Itsekiri’s intense focus while anchoring Nigeria’s 4x100m relay team to victory over Ghana is one of the memorable images from the 13th African Games. He also upgraded to a silver in the men’s 100m event, having won bronze in 2019 at the African Games staged in Morocco.

Badminton

Opeyori Anuoluwapo (Age 26, Men’s Singles)

Anuoluwapo holds the distinction of winning the first of Nigeria’s 47 gold medals at the 13th African Games. This victory adds to his impressive collection of continental titles, solidifying his position as a role model for aspiring Nigerian badminton players.

Boxing

Omole Dolapo (Age 24, Men’s 57kg)

This fierce competitor is well on his way to fame, having already secured a qualifying spot for the Paris Olympics. Omole’s victory was particularly impressive as he dominated the final fight against Mozambique’s Armando Rugoberto Sigauque.

Onyekwere Ifeanyi (Age 23, Men’s 92+kg)

Determined to redeem himself after a bronze medal at the Commonwealth Games, Onyekwere delivered on his promise by winning gold in Ghana. He battled through a challenging match against Alo Mike Mansogo from Equatorial Guinea to secure the heavyweight title.

Olaore Olaitan (Age 22, Men’s 92kg)

UK-based Olaitan secured gold for Nigeria in the men’s 92kg boxing final with a powerful knockout victory over Kevin Kuadjovi of Togo. He has already qualified for the Paris Olympics, where he aims to reach the podium.

Cynthia Ogunsemilore reacts after winning her 60kg final against Algeria's Khelif Hadjila at the Africa Boxing Qualifiers in Dakar.
Cynthia Ogunsemilore reacts after winning her 60kg final against Algeria’s Khelif Hadjila at the Africa Boxing Qualifiers in Dakar.

Ogunsemilore Cynthia (Age 21, Women’s 60kg)

Having already secured her spot in the Paris Olympics, Ogunsemilore arrived in Ghana to solidify her status as one of Africa’s best in her weight class. She dominated the women’s 60kg final, leaving no doubt in her dominance with a decisive 5-0 win over Rahma Mafouz Ibrahim of Egypt.

Ojo Nene (Age 22, Women’s 57kg)

Nene earned Team Nigeria’s first boxing gold medal through an unusual turn of events. Her Algerian opponent, Selmoun Chahira, failed to show up for their scheduled bout, resulting in a walkover victory.

Oraekwe Blessing (Age 25, Women’s 70kg)

Oraekwe’s boxing journey began with local competitions in Lagos and she continued her impressive rise by defeating Alcinda Lucas Dos Santos of Mozambique 5-0 to claim her first African Games gold medal.

Mbata Patricia (Age 29, Women’s 75kg)

British-Nigerian boxer Mbata honed her skills at the prestigious Finchley and District Amateur Boxing Club, the same arena where Anthony Joshua trained as an amateur. Following Joshua’s tradition of success, Mbata earned gold at the African Games and now sets her sights on qualifying for Paris 2024.

Umunnakwe Jacinta (Age 30, Women’s 81kg)

Umunnakwe, a previous gold medalist at the Commonwealth Games, continued her winning streak by defeating Joel Mar

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