Yesterday was a golden day for Team Nigeria at the on-going African Games in Morocco. After a slow start in the games, which has seen Egypt establish a huge lead, Team Nigeria flew to seven gold medals yesterday with football, wrestling and athletics leading the way.
The Women national U-20 team, Falconets set the ball rolling with a hard-fought penalty shoot-out defeat of Cameroun in the female football event before the wrestling team set Nigeria’s camp ablaze with five gold medals out of the six finals they fought in.
And then, Commonwealth champion, Ese Brume leapt to her first African Games title in the women long jump event.
The keenly contested women football final game between two teams that had battled to a 1-1 draw in a group phase match eight days earlier ended 0-0 after regulation and extra time at the Stade Boubker Aamar outside Rabat. Penalty shoot-out followed and the Nigeria U20 girls, one of only four teams to have featured in every edition of the FIFA U20 Women’s World Cup since the competition started 17 years ago, triumphed.
The victory was the first gold for the Falconets at the African Games in 12 years, having not qualified for the 10th edition in Mozambique in 2011 and finishing outside the medals’ range in Brazzaville four years ago.
Today their male counterparts, Flying Eagles will attempt to win their first gold medal since the country last won it in 1973.
The seven-time African champions edged a memorable encounter with Mali in the semi-finals, which went into extra time, penalty shoot-out and sudden death session before they could be separated.
Burkina Faso’s U20 side also had to endure the gruel of a penalty shoot-out to oust Senegal in the second semi-final, and today’s battle for gold will be no contest for weak bones.
On the mat, Nigeria dominated women wrestling held in El Jadida, Morocco, with reigning African Games gold medalists, Blessing Oborududu (68kg), Odunayo Adekuoroye (57kg), Mercy Genesis (50kg) and Aminat Adeniyi (62kg) retaining their titles. African Champion, Blessing Onyebuchi (76kg) came good, while 2018 African champion Bose Samuel (53kg) settled for silver after losing to Cameroun’s Essombe Joseph 2-4 in the final.
The five gold-medalists did not concede a point in their respective final bouts.
Earlier on Wednesday, Team Nigeria’s Tochukwu Okeke (87kg) claimed bronze in the Greco-Roman event.
Action will be wrapped up in wrestling today in the men’s Freestyle events, with the likes of Amas Daniel (65kg), Emmanuel Ogbonna (74kg), Soso Tamarau, Sinivie Boltic, Ebikewenimo Welson (57kg) and Melvin Bibo expected to rack in more medals for the country.
In the long jump, Ese Brume leapt to her first All Africa Games gold at the Moulay Abdellah Sports stadium in Rabat as Nigeria picked two more gold medals on day four of track and field events.
Brume, who only last month leapt to a new 7.05m personal best to become the third Nigerian nay African woman to hit the magical 7 metres in the event was the hot favourite to win and she didn’t disappoint as she led with her very first jump of 6.68m, which could have given her the gold medal.
The Nigerian however added one more centimetre with her final jump to win the title with 6.69m, the second-longest winning margin after Janice Joseph of South Africa’s 6.79m leap to win in 2007 in Algiers.
In the women’s discus throw, Chioma Onyekwere won the gold with her 59.91m throw.
Onyekwere came to the Games as African leader in the event following the 60.75m personal best she threw in June this year in Kutztown, Pennsylvania, U.S.
The other two Nigerians in the event, Anumba Ashley Ifeoma (53.45m) and Princess Kara (49.85m) came fourth and fifth respectively.