Sustaining Team Nigeria’s performance at the 2014 Commonwealth Games

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2014 Commonwealth GamesBy Emmanuel Afonne

Nigeria’s performance at 2014 Glasgow Commonwealth Games was the country’s second best, since the country started participating in the games in 1950.

Joshua Majekodunmi won silver in high jump at the competition held in Auckland, New Zealand.

Nigeria’s best outing was in the 1994 Victoria Canada games, as Nigeria was placed fourth on the medal table.

Nigeria harvested 11 gold, 13 silver and 13 bronze medals.

The country was placed 8th in the 2014 Glasgow Commonwealth Games, with 11 Gold, 11 silver and 14 bronze medals.

Nigeria participated in seven sports at the Glasgow Commonwealth Games, with 127 athletes, made 65 males and 62 females.

The sports are: Athletics, Boxing, Shooting, Wrestling, Weightlifting, Table Tennis, and Para- Lifting.

Athletics with 46 athletes won seven medals (three gold, three silver and one bronze), wrestling with 14 athletes won 12 medals ( two gold, two silver and eight bronze).

Boxing registered its name with three bronze medals from 11boxers; weightlifting with 16 athletes garnered 13 medals (six gold, six silver and one bronze).

Table Tennis that featured 10 athletes won one bronze; while Shooting with 15 athletes did not win any medal.

Female athletes blazed the trail as they won nine of the 11 gold medals.

Nigeria’s gold would have been 12, if not for the violation of anti-doping regulations by weightlifter Chika Amalaha, was disqualified after her A and B-samples tested positive for diuretics and masking agents.

Amalaha had won the women’s 53kg category with a game record total of 196kg become the youngest gold medalist in the event.
She was Nigeria’s first gold medalist in Glasgow, only to be stripped of the medal and other privileges.

Blessing Okagbare was the star of the competition as she won two gold medals. She won the medals in 100 and 200 metres.

Esther Onyema and Loveline Obiji completed the gold-party for Team Nigeria in the women’s para-sport event with two power-lifting gold medals.

The two athletes, named Member of the Order of the Niger (MON) by President Goodluck Jonathan in 2012, broke world in their respective categories.

Mary Onyali, former African sprints queen, said that female athletes had consistently performed better than their male counterparts.

“The ladies are on top. Women are coachable more than the men. Men are hard to coach and to convince. It’s a natural thing.
“Men have been under our shadows for a long time; it is like taking a horse to the stream. It is difficult to force it to drink water. We’ve been supporting our male counterparts morally and financially and yet they are not hungry enough to prove their worth,’’ she said.

Mr Gbenga Elegbeleye, Director-General of the National Sports Commission (NSC), described Team Nigeria’s performance at the games as impressive and heartwarming.

“With the heartwarming performances of our athletes in the just-concluded Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games, I will say we are good to go as regards the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio, Brazil.

“We have mapped out a solid programme that would help the athletes who have performed creditably to not only keep their form but to even do better when the 2016 Olympics time comes.

“The Commonwealth Games is mini-Olympic Games because every important athlete around the world that belongs to the Commonwealth Nations, apart from the Americans participated; and this year’s games attracted many world-rated athletes like Usain Bolt and the rest; so you can understand how tough the tournament was,” he said.

Team Nigeria’s performance at the 2014 Commonwealth Games could be seen as a make-up for the country’s poor showing at the 2012 Olympics in London, where Nigeria failed to win a medal.

Eric Campbell, the National Sports Commission (NSC ) High Performance Director, said effort would be geared toward improving on the achievements recorded at the Glasgow Commonwealth Games.

He said that this would be achieved through the full utilisation of the Athletes’ High Performance Centre located inside the package `B’ area of the National Stadium Abuja.

He noted that the idea was to ensure that the experience of London 2012 Olympics was not repeated.

According to Campbell, the invitation of few Nigeria-American born athletes to the Team Nigeria camp, will boost the country’s chances of doing well at the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

On his part, Sani Ndanusa, the President of the Nigeria Olympic Committee (NOC), said that a strategy known as “one-service-one-medal project’’ to ensure that Nigeria wins medals at the forthcoming Olympics has been introduced.

According to him, the plan entails involving the military and para-military agencies in preparation for the Olympics.

Ndanusa noted that considerable percentage of medalists produced by Nigeria at past national and international events, Olympic and Commonwealth Games had come from the military and para-military outfits.

Ndanusa pointed out that the joy of the Glasgow Games should not be allowed to fade, adding that athletes excelled despite numerous challenges.

President Goodluck Jonathan no doubt was happy with the outcome of the games and promised to reward athletes that won medals.

Jonathan particularly commended Blessing Okagbare, who dominated the female sprint events; and other athletes who won medals for the country at the games.

Jonathan assured that his administration would continue to encourage athletes, as well as sports development in the country.
Stakeholders want Nigeria not to over-celebrate successes at the Glasgow Commonwealth Games, but to start early preparations for the Rio Olympics.