In recent years, Nigerian athletics has continued to produce talented athletes who have achieved success at the international level
Nigerian athletics has a rich history that dates back to the colonial era. During this period, British colonial administrators introduced Western sports such as football, athletics, and boxing to Nigeria, which quickly gained popularity among Nigerians.
In the 1940s and 1950s, Nigerian athletes began participating in international sporting events such as the Olympics and the Commonwealth Games. Some of the early Nigerian athletes who achieved international success during this period include Emmanuel Ifeanjuna, who won Nigeria’s first Olympic gold medal in the high jump at the 1964 Tokyo Olympics, and Nojeem Maiyegun, who won Nigeria’s first Commonwealth Games gold medal in the 440 yards race in 1954.
In the 1970s and 1980s, Nigerian athletics continued to grow in popularity and success, with Nigerian athletes winning several medals at international events such as the Olympics, the Commonwealth Games, and the All-Africa Games. Some notable Nigerian athletes who achieved international success during this period include Mary Onyali, Chidi Imoh, Innocent Egbunike, and Falilat Ogunkoya.
NIGERIAN WOMEN MAKING RAVES
While Nigerian athletics has produced many talented female athletes, it is not necessarily female-dominated. Male athletes have also achieved significant success in Nigerian athletics, particularly in events such as the 100m, 200m, and 400m sprints, as well as in the long jump and triple jump.
That being said, female Nigerian athletes have achieved notable success in events such as the 100m, 200m, and 400m sprints, as well as in the long jump and triple jump. Some of the most successful Nigerian female athletes include Mary Onyali-Omagbemi, who won four Olympic medals and eight medals at the World Championships, and Chioma Ajunwa who won gold at the 1994 Commonwealth Games in Victoria, Canada, and the 1995 African Championships in Athletics held in Algiers, Algeria, and her historic Olympic victory.
In recent years, Nigerian athletics has continued to produce talented athletes who have achieved success at the international level. Some of the current Nigerian athletes who have achieved international success include Blessing Okagbare, who has won multiple medals at the Olympics and the World Championships, and Tobi Amusan, who won the gold medal in the women’s 100m hurdles at the 2018 Commonwealth Games, 2022 World Championships and setting the current world record of 12.12 seconds in the semi-final, followed up by a wind-assisted 12.06 s in the final.
MODERN-DAY ATHLETICS IN NIGERIA
Nigeria has continued to produce notable athletes in track and field since the turn of the 21st century. Although females in athletics have been immense for the last 23 years, making history and maintaining Nigeria’s reputation in all forms of Track and Fields Here are some of the most prominent Nigerian athletes in track and field since the year 2000:
These athletes, among others, have continued to represent Nigeria with distinction in international competitions and have helped to elevate the profile of Nigerian athletics in the world.
Males have been in the light too but the ladies have had more impacts. For example, in the 2008 Beijing Olympics, the Nigerian men’s 4x100m relay team won a silver medal, while in the 2013 World Championships. In the same championships, men’s triple jumper, Tosin Oke, won a bronze medal.
In addition, several Nigerian male athletes have won medals in major international competitions, including sprinters like Olusoji Fasuba, who won a gold medal in the 100m event at the 2007 All-Africa Games, and Divine Oduduru, who won a silver medal in the men’s 200m event at the 2019 World Championships.
Weightlifting, powerlifting, boxing, para-table tennis, athletics, boxing, and table tennis were the seven events in which 94 athletes competed for Team Nigeria. This was their best-ever performance at the games, as they won an unprecedented 12 gold, 9 silver, and 14 bronze medals for a total of 35 medals, placing them seventh out of 42 nations that took part in the 2022 Commonwealth Games.
The most remarkable aspect of Team Nigeria’s victory in England is that female athletes competed in wrestling, weightlifting, and athletic competitions and won all 12 gold medals that gave the nation her outstanding ranking.
The 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, Scotland, saw Team Nigeria put up its finest performance to date, winning a total of 11 gold, 8 silver, and 14 gold medals, with the female competitors, under the direction of Blessing Okagbare, adding nine gold medals.
Alhassan Yakmut, a former director general of the National Sports Commission (NSC), said he was not astonished by the accomplishments of the young women.
In an exclusive interview with Daily Trust, the former Nigerian international volleyball player said, “Personally, the superlative performances of Team Nigeria’s women didn’t come to me as a surprise. It has been the trend in the past 25 years. Our best performances in international competitions have been limited to women.
“I, therefore, agree with the Minister of Women Affairs, Pauline Tallen, who said the performance of Nigerian women in Birmingham was proof of how much women could contribute to the image and development of the country
“Now, the events are 50-50 for male and female athletes. Therefore, it is the male gender that we must revive for podium performances,” Yakmut said.
As it is, Nigerian women seem to be the face of Nigeria Athletics at the moment and it doesn’t look like they are not letting go of the pedal anytime soon.