The just concluded African Championships in Asaba, proved to be one of the most dramatic and exciting sports competitions ever held in Nigeria, with memories from the Championship sure to linger on for many years to come.
Spectators were thrilled to five days of captivating Athletics activities, produced by the best Nigerian and African athletes had to offer inside the Stephen Keshi Stadium. With the athletes competing not just for individual honours and country pride, but with the right to represent Africa at the 2018 IAAF Continental Cup in Ostrava, come September 8-9.
At the end of the Championship in the capital city of Delta State, Kenya topped the medals table with 19 medals (11 Gold, 6 Silver & 2 Bronze), South Africa were second with 30 medals (9 Gold, 13 Silver & 8 Bronze), and Nigeria third with 19 (9 Gold, 5 Silver & 5 Bronze).
Based on the Nigerian medallists who produced outstanding performances to secure these medals, we’ve carefully selected the best performers for the country at the Continental showpiece.
Brume equalled her Personal Best of 6.83m, to win her third successive African title in the Long Jump (2014, 2016 & 2018). Doing this, she put her name in the history books as the first athlete in history to win three African Long Jump titles, thereby sealing her place as one of the best the Continent has produced in the event.
The Commonwealth Silver medallist came to Asaba as favourite to win the men’s Shot Put title. He didn’t disappoint, showing his dominance with a Championship Record (CR) throw of 21.08m, to win by nearly 2m ahead of the second place finisher.
As the reigning Commonwealth Champion, Amusan had no great challenge within the Continent prior the Championship, as all she needed do was to deliver. And she did deliver, racing to a fast time of 12.86s to win the women’s 100m Hurdles.
Amusan is now the reigning African Games Champion, Commonwealth Champion and African Champion, at just age of 21.
She was a major surprise Gold medallist for Nigeria, doing so in an historical way on her first senior international outing for the country.
She leapt to a lifetime best of 14.02m, to become Nigeria’s first women’s Triple Jump Champion in the history of the African Championships.
Nathaniel has been very consistent in her performances in the past one year, without having an individual international medal to her name.
Her consistency finally paid off in Asaba, when she won the 400m Hurdles Gold medal in 55.53s, outclassing pre-championship favourite and defending Champion, South Africa’s Theron Wenda Nel, who eventually ended up with the Bronze medal.
The US based Mechanical Engineer won her first African title, throwing a PB of 58.09m to win the Discus event. She was a Bronze medallist in the event at the 2016 edition in South Africa, and her performance in Asaba shows how much she has improved.
Noteworthy is that she doesn’t have a coach and trained herself to win Gold in Asaba.
As the Javelin National record holder and reigning African Games Champion, Nwanaga was surely on the right path to win her first African title.
This she did conveniently by producing one of her finest performances this year, throwing 56.96m to win Nigeria’s first Gold medal in the event since 1989.
Another consistent performer for the country that broke out to the senior ranks in 2017. Ajayi has the fastest time by a Nigerian female quarter-miler this season, and was a major medal contender in the event heading to Asaba.
She got this done by winning the Bronze medal in 51.34s, before anchoring the 4x400m relay team to Gold clocking 3:31.17.
The US based athlete also won 400m Bronze medal, but what was more outstanding on his outing was anchoring the 4x400m relay team from 5th place position to winning Bronze.
The last time Nigeria won a medal in the event was in 2014, so it tells a lot how much the medal meant to the team and country at large.
On her debut outing for Nigeria, the hammer thrower did so on a record breaking note, setting a new National record of 67.39m to win Silver medal in the event.
Ogunrinde’s performance has shown there’s a glimmer of hope for medals in the event at future Championships, as the last time a Nigerian won a medal in the event at the African Championships was in 2008.
The quartet of Joy Udo-Gabriel, Blessing Okagbare-Ighoteguonor, Tobi Amusan and Rosemary Chukwuma, produced one of the best moments in Asaba, when they brilliantly won the 4x100m Gold clocking 43.77s.
With Okagbare being the most experienced in the team, Amusan just getting to her prime, Udo-Gabriel and Chukwuma, still in the junior and youth levels, it’s evident the future of Nigerian female sprints is bright.
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