Excited AFN boss, Okowa thanks Amusan, Brume, others as Nigeria records all-time best at Common wealth Games
President of the Athletics Federation of Nigeria Tonobok Okowa was on cloud nine yesterday after track and field stars pushed Team Nigeria to an all-time best-ever record at the Commonwealth Games, thanks to the gold rush on Sunday.
A gold from World record breaker, Tobi Amusan, in the women’s 100m hurdles, a historic gold medal from women’s 4x100m quarter of Tobi Amusan, Favour Ofili, Rosemary Chukwuma and Grace Nwokocha and another Games record by long jumper, Ese Brume took Team Nigeria’s medal haul to 12 gold, the best in the history of Nigeria’s participation in the Games.
Speaking with The Guardian shortly after Brume delivered the long jump gold with her 7 00m jump, Okowa said; “I don’t know the appropriate word to describe this moment. I am on top of the world here in Birmingham. Help me to thank the athletes from Amusan to Favour Ofili, Rosemary Chukwuma, Grace Nwokocha, Ese Brume and all those that made Nigeria proud here in Birmingham.
“The journey has been very rough for athletics I must say, but I thank God for giving us this glorious outing. I will continue to do my best by giving the athletes morale and any kind of support they will need to do well at major championships. I thank the coaches and all those that contributed in one way or the other to that victory,” Okowa stated.
The gold medal won by the women’s 4x100m relay team on Sunday in Birmingham was the first for the country in 28 years. The quartet did the record-breaking in fashion, running 42.10 seconds to break the barely month old 42.22 seconds African record they set in Oregon, USA at the World Athletics championships on July 23.
World and Commonwealth Games 100m hurdles champion and record holder, Amusan started the historic run with a brilliant first leg before handing over to Ofili who ensured Nigeria maintained the advantage before giving Chukwuma, the individual 100m finalist the baton.
Chukwuma ran the curve perfectly and handed over to reigning Nigerian 100m queen, Nwokocha in the first position.
The 21-year Nwokocha maintained the advantage despite the threat by Great Britain’s anchor leg runner, Darly Neita to bring home Nigeria’s first women’s relay gold in well over two decades.
Four years ago Amusan was part of the relay team that finished third at the Gold Coast in Australia.
Nigeria won her first 4x100m relay Commonwealth Games gold in 1994 in Victoria, Canada when the quartet of Faith Idehen, Mary Tombiri, Christy Opara-Thompson, and Mary Onyali ran a then 42.99 seconds Games record to win.
The country’s first actual 4x100m relay medal was won four years earlier in Auckland, New Zealand where the quartet of Beatrice Utondu, Fatima Yusuf, Charity Opara and Chioma Ajunwa won a bronze medal.
The men’s team of Udodi Onwuzurike, Favour Ashe, Alaba Akintola and Raymond Ekevwo also made history with the bronze medal win on Sunday. The medal is the first by the men’s 4x100m relay team since 1990 (32 years ago) when the quartet of Victor Nwankwo, Davidson Ezinwa, Osmond Ezinwa and Abdullahi Tetengi ran 38.85 seconds to win the silver medal at the Mount Smart Stadium in Auckland in 1990.
With the relay gold medal, Amusan made it two on a single day, as she had earlier grabbed the 100m hurdles gold medal with a Games Record yesterday.
On her part, Ese Brume provided the last golden moment, leaping 7.00m in her last jump, after setting a Games Record of 6.99m earlier.