Weightlifters lead the chase as Aruna guides table tennis to semis
• Boxers also into last four as track and field athletes warm up
Team Nigeria’s weightlifting team is currently the proverbial goose laying golden eggs as another lifter, Rafiatu Folashade Lawal, on Saturday night, won the country’s second gold medal at the ongoing Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games.
Lawal was in dominant form in women’s 59kg weightlifting class, breaking the Games’ records to lift a combined total of 206 kilogrammes.
Weightlifting gave the country its first gold medal at the Games when, earlier on Saturday, Adijat Olarinoye emerged as the overall best lifter in the women’s 55kg weightlifting.
She lifted 92kg in the snatch, 111kg in clean and jerk, lifting 203kg in total, which is also a Games’ record.
The country’s third medal came in yesterday through another lifter, Umoafia Edidiong, who won a bronze medal in the men’s 67kg category.
Umoafia lifted 130kg in the snatch, 160kg in the clean and jerk with a total of 290kg to win the bronze medal.
Edidiong finished third behind young weightlifter, Jeremy Lalrinnunga, who smashed two Games records on his way to a sensational gold medal win, as he added a second yellow metal to India’s tally.
In boxing, Nigeria’s captain, Abdulafeez Osoba knocked down his Bahamian opponent, Carl Hield to easily qualify for the Round of 16 in the men’s Light Middleweight division.
Unfortunately, it was a different story in the Women’s Light Middleweight category (over 66kg -70kg) as Nigeria’s Bolanle Shogbamu lost her round of 16 match to England’s Jodie Wilkinson, who won the bout 4-1 on points.
She lost through unanimous decision.
Yesterday presented the first all West Africa bout, with Adeyinka Benson taking on Abubakari Kwesi Quartey of Ghana, in the men’s Middleweight category.
The fight was still ongoing as at press time.
In table tennis, the men’s team gave Nigerians something to cheer on when they beat Malaysia in the team event to qualify for the semifinals.
Their women counterpart had earlier been knocked out of the running and Malaysia threatened to also send the men packing.
However, Quadri Aruna had other ideas. He rallied the troops to dump the Asians 3-2 and secure Nigeria’s place in the semifinals.
Malaysia’s number one player, Choong Javen’s eagerness to kill off Aruna in the final game of the men’s team quarterfinals proved costly as they ended up losing 3-2.
Choong won the first set 11-7 before Aruna staged a comeback by winning the next three sets 8-11, 5-11, 9-11 to secure Nigeria’s spot in the semifinals at the National Exhibition Centre.
Malaysia started well with Choong and his partner Wong Qi Shen delivering the first point against Amadi Omeh-Bode Abiodun, beating them 6-11, 12-10, 12-10, 11-7.
Nigeria then took the tie with Aruna’s 11-9, 6-11, 11-5, 11-5 victory over Leong Chee Feng.
Malaysia pulled ahead with Wong’s 12-10, 14-12, 11-5 win over Abiodun, only to let Olajide Omotayo make it 2-2 by beating Chee Feng 11-8, 9-11, 11-7, 11-6.
Team Nigeria is getting set for the athletics events, which begin tomorrow.
Already, the stars, who participated in last month’s World Championships in Oregon, United States, including golden girl, Tobi Amusan and Ese Brume, who won a silver medal, have integrated into the Birmingham squad and are ready to rumble.
Nigeria is aiming to win its first men’s 100 metres gold medal, while the women will seek to take the gold medal for the first time since Blessing Okagbare in 2014.