Grange team wins big for Nigeria at World School Games
When the U-13 sports team from Grange School Lagos arrived at the Dubai Sports City for their first ever World School Games, they carried with them the hopes of thousands of other students and the entire staff and management of their school back home in Lagos, Nigeria.
Such a significant weight on the young shoulders of a bunch of teenagers and pre-teens, but as they cast their eyes on the shiny trophy during the opening day parade of schools, they knew it was possible, that they could go out there and give it their best shot. In that moment victory suddenly felt very much within their grasp, all they had to do was reach out and grab it.
With a heightened individual self-determination, an admirable team spirit, and unrelenting focus, the team joined other students from around the world to compete over three days in the World School Games, an international multi-sport event aimed at showcasing the talent, diversity and sportsmanship of school students worldwide. The World School Games consists of three sports – athletics, football and swimming – with the schools competing against each other to accrue the most points and the winning school crowned World Champions.
Captained by Jordan Demuren and Toni Ogunlade, the Grange School’s team strategy was to garner as much points as quickly as possible, and as the games opened on the first day with athletics, they raced to the finish line and broke existing records as they jumped to the top spot on athletics day.
The team had been practising for months managed by the school’s Director of Activities, Mr. Okechukwu Obi, who leveraged the school’s well-equipped sports facilities and well-structured training programme to adequately prepare the team for the games in Dubai. They began practicing well ahead of the competition and maintained a structured schedule that allowed the team members cope with academic activities whilst preparing for the competition.
Some notable victories for the school include Ore Alabi’s gold medal win for the team in the triple jump event with a record breaking distance of 10.33m, Tobi Alonge clinched the silver medal also in the triple jump event with a distance of 9.89m, also smashing the previous record of 9.48m. Hakeem Nuhu-Yakubu won gold in the long jump event; and with a bronze medal in the boys’ relay, silver medal in both the mixed relay and girls relay, as well as Erinayo Atobatele’s bronze in the girls’ shot put event, Grange School emerged first overall in athletics for the games.
Also, with the help of Damilola Adekeye’s gold medal in the swimming (breaststroke) category, Chukwudi Kanu’s silver medal in swimming (freestyle) category, Jordan Demuren’s bronze medal in swimming (breast stroke) category, Olamma Akaniro’s bronze medal in swimming (back stroke) category and the team’s gold medal in swimming (medley relay boys) category, the team emerged first overall in swimming.
With a total of 53.5 points (collectively winning 5 gold medals, 4 silver medals and 5 bronze medals) and coming first in athletics and swimming, and second in football, the Grange School Lagos U-13 team won their first ever appearance at the World School Games in Dubai and lifted the trophy as the new World Champions.
At a time when high school sports participation around the world seems to be dropping – raising concerns about the future of global sports competitions – Grange School Lagos, with its phenomenal outing at its maiden appearance at the World School Games in Dubai, inspires much hope for victorious representation in competitive sports for the country. Their excellent performance earned them the honourable title of ‘Champion’, bringing home the trophy as a beacon of optimism for the school and country’s sporting future.
This resounding victory and the joys it brings, emphasizes that sporting activities support the academic mission of schools. They are not a diversion, but rather an extension of a good educational program as students who participate in sporting activities tend to have better attendance records, higher grade-point averages, and fewer discipline problems generally.
The school now looks ahead to other future outings with an increased sense of possibility of surpassing this first outing. There is increased motivation for other students to join the sports team and consider representing the school in various competitions locally and internationally, which in turn holds much benefits for the students and to the school.
For the participating students, this victory is a significant morale booster and motivating factor to consider professional careers as athletes and sports men and women flying the country’s flag at international competitions in the future.
Jordan Demuren, the swimming champion has already expressed strong desires to swim for Nigeria in the future. This will be a great boost for the country that yet grapples with finding local talents to present at international sporting events.
This win also proves that it is important and of immense benefit to empower and equip schools to be a hub for physical and sporting activities throughout the country – not just for high school sports – but also to significantly impact the quality and quantity of sports participants that the country can rely on to fly the country’s flag victoriously at various sports competitions.
As these teenagers walked the tracks on opening day of the World School Games in Dubai, the cheers from the spectators in the bleachers that day was a foretaste of the roaring applause and thunderous jubilation that awaited them back home when they returned victorious with the trophy. They won a remarkable victory, they made their school and country proud.