Nigerian sport is somehow on the rise again with prospects in other sports than the ‘almighty’ football. There are positives in football as well with the emergence and gradual growth of some young, talented players in the Super Eagles.
There are talents in the U-17 cadre of football too and that informed why the country has won five FIFA U-17 World Cup trophies. However, there are so many athletes performing wonders in others sports in recent times.
Last year, Divine Oduduru was one of the best sprinters in the world with the times he recorded at various meets during the athletics season. Oduduru ran sub-10 seconds in the 100m more than three times and that was impressive. Tobi Amusan and Ese Brume have been brilliant too in athletics.
Amusan narrowly missed a bronze at the World championships last year in Doha and has won silver this term in an indoor 60m event abroad. Brume settled for bronze in the same competition and she was the only Nigerian medallist at the global athletics fiesta. Some other sports have recorded brilliant runs as it was amazing that Nigeria’s women’s basketball team, D’Tigress, won the Olympic Games ticket in Serbia only last week.
The team lost with only five points to the highly-rated USA team, lost with seven points against number 7 team in the world, Serbia, but were glorious against Mozambique in the first match with over 20 points margin victory which was good enough to guarantee the Tokyo ticket.
This team has been very consistent with back-to-back wind of the Women’s AfroBasket championship. It is clear now that the team has reduced the gap between Nigeria and the other top nations in the world. The consistency in the last two years has been great and one expects the team to develop on this at the Olympic Games.
This team also qualified for the quarter-finals of the last women’s basketball World Cup. It is only the second time in history that Nigeria will be presenting a women’s team at the games after the 2004 participation. Incidentally, the male team also earned a berth at the last World Cup. The team emerged the best African team in the classification at the global event to qualify for Tokyo. Also, the wrestling team has been fantastic.
At the just concluded African Championships in Algeria, Nigeria won six gold medals to retain the title as the best on the continent. The return of Daniel Igali has been a big blessing to the sport over the years and things could get better soonest. Igali could be producing Olympic and world champions for the country. After failing to mount the podium at the Olympics in 2016, female wrestler, Odunayo Adekuoroye, has been on the rise.
First, she rose to be number three in her 57kg category in the world, later number two and only last week, she was rated number one in the world. It is expected that she will pick a medal in Tokyo, and if all goes well it could be gold.
Blessing Oborodudu is another prospect. She is also rated number 2 in her 68kg category in the world and a bright prospect for the podium. It was learnt that the Minister of Sports Sunday Dare played a huge role in the Olympic qualifier event the wrestlers went for and also the African Championship in Algeria. “The minister is a blessing to sports in Nigeria. I have never experienced this kind of understanding from any administrator.
The man wants results and he is giving us all the resources to get it. We are working hard to get great results for the minister and Nigeria in Tokyo,” Igali said. Back to athletics, the All Comers event takes place in Akure, Ondo State and it is expected that the home-based athletes to take over from Oduduru, Brume, and Amusan should be identified. It is also important to state that the leadership tussle in the AFN must be sorted out for the country to move on.
While congratulating the wrestlers and dunkers (basketballers) for the feat achieved, it is important to commend the minister, Dare, for his role in the feat achieved by the wrestlers. The minister took a special interest in them and provided all needed to boost them for the two tournaments attended recently. Dare is expected to be firm on the athletics crisis so that the country will not head to the Olympics with a divided AFN as it is currently.