Team Nigeria finishes third with four gold, three bronze medals
It’s mission accomplished, says Okowa
For the first time since it started participating in the World Athletics U-20 Championships, Nigeria is returning home with four gold and three bronze medals.
Team Nigeria captured one gold and one bronze medal on the last day of competition yesterday. The gold came from the women’s 4x400m relay team featuring Oke Opeyemi, Ella Onojuvwevwo, Nigeria’s star of the championship, Imaobong Nse Uko and Favour Ofili. Their 3:31.46 seconds finish was enough to get Nigeria the gold medal.
In the women’s 4x100m relay, Nigeria settled for the bronze medal. Praise Ofoku started a rather slow race and handed baton to Favour Ofili, who improved to hand over to Anita Taviore. Tima Godbless anchored at 43.90 seconds to pick the bronze. Jamaica won the race in 42.94 seconds.
Team Nigeria could not finish in the men’s 4x100m final due to a mix up in the baton exchange between Udodi Nwazurike and Godson Brume. Nigeria started the race well with Nicholas Fakorode handing the baton on time to Nicholas Mabilo. He delivered by handling over to Udodi Nwazurike. At this point, Nigeria was already casting home for a gold medal finish until the unexpected happened. Udodi, who won Nigeria’s gold in the 200m on Saturday, ran a fast race only to bump into Brume, who could not move early. Nigeria lost the gold in the process.
The country’s athletes and officials had celebrated late into the night on Saturday when the duo of Imaobong Uko and Udodi Nwazurike captured two gold medals while Favour Ofili got a bronze medal.
In all, Nigeria athletes made nine final appearances at Nairobi 2021. Host Kenya topped the medals table with eight gold, two silver and six bronze medals, followed by Finland with four gold and one silver. Nigeria got four gold and three bronze medals, just as Ethiopia was third with three gold, six silver and two bronze medals.
The performance, according to the President of the Athletics Federation of Nigeria (AFN), Tonobok Okowa, is a mission accomplished.
Speaking with The Guardian yesterday, Okowa praised the athletes, their coaches and other officials for maintaining discipline, which he said accounted for the huge success in Nairobi.
“From the beginning, I sounded it clear that for a team to achieve success at any competition, both the athletes and officials must be disciplined. I am happy it is paying off for us and I thank every member of the team,” he said.
The AFN boss continued: “This crop of athletes will form the bulk of our team to the Commonwealth Games, African Championships and Paris 2024 Olympics.
“We will continue to work on them, give them the assistance they need in terms of training and competitions. I thank the Sports Minister for his support and I also appreciate the efforts of AFN board members. Together, we will make Nigeria’s athletics great again.”
In the 1996 edition of the championship, Nigeria made it to the podium in the 100m event when Francis Obikwelu made history as the second man after Trinidad and Tobago’s Ato Boldon to win the 100 and 200m titles.
Two years later in 1998, Nigeria’s Nduka Awazie won 400m gold at Annecy Park des-sports in France, running 45.54 seconds to beat Australian Casey Vincent (45.45sec) and Kuwait athlete Fawze Shammari (45.89 sec).
Nigeria did not win any medal in the year 2000, but the country got one bronze in 2002. There was no medal in 2004, but the 2006 edition produced one silver medal.
The last time Nigeria got a gold medal was in 2008, when Folashade Abugan won in 400m in Poland. Two years later, Nigeria got three silver medals (4×400m men), 400m women and 4x400m women). There was no medal in 2012.
Nigeria got her last medal at Championship in 2016, where Divine Oduduru got a silver in the 200m event. Nigeria did now win any medal in 2016 and 2018.