What able-bodied Nigerian athletes have failed to do, their physically challenged counterparts accomplished yesterday at the on-going 2018 Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast, Australia.
Four gold and four silver medals by the special athletes catapulted Team Nigeria to the ninth position on the overall medals table at the end of proceedings yesterday.
All four gold medals came from the para-powerlifting events with Roland Ezuruike, Esther Onyema, Ndidi Nwosu and Ibrahim Abdulazeez emergeing as heroes and heroines. The duo of Paul Kehinde and Lucy Kehinde settled for silver medals each in the men and women’s events. Team Nigeria’s officials celebrated late into the night yesterday.
Ezuruike opened the floodgate of gold medals in the men’s lightweight final with a lift of 224.3kg. The silver medal went to his compatriot, Kehinde, who lifted 219.9kg.
In the women’s lightweight, Esther Onyema made a lift of 141.6kg to create a new world record. Ejike claimed the silver medal with a lift of 134.1kg leaving the bronze medal to Zoe Newson of England.Also in the women’s heavyweight, Nwosu emerged tops with a lift of 110.4kg to finish ahead of Louis Sudgen of England (89.2kg) and Joyce Njuguna of Kenya (89.0kg).
Ibrahim Abdulazeez added the fourth gold medal in the men’s para-powerlifting at Carrara Stadium with a lift of 210kg.It was however a different story for the men’s basketball team, D’Tigers, who suffered their fourth defeat in four matches yesterday.
D’Tigers were beaten 61-66 by Scotland to end their campaign in this year’s Commonwealth Games on an embarrassing note. The Nigerians went down 16-23 in first quarter, 12-17 in second quarter, won the third quarter 18-6 and bowed 15-20 in the fourth quarter.
Meanwhile, the new Women’s Para Powerlifting World record holder Onyema and Commonwealth Gold medalist Rowland Ezuruike want an audience with President Muhammadu Buhari after their performances yesterday.
Onyema who lifted 131kg in the Women’s lightweight final to set a new world record said that meeting President Buhari would be a dream come true.“I feel so excited because it was like a film to me. I was anxious about winning gold at the Commonwealth Games because after the Paralympic Games in Rio, I went to rest. I had to start the process of cutting down on my body weight because I was already in the heavyweight class and I knew I needed a lot of hard work to shed about 10kg.
“Today I have made sacrifices to make my country proud. I have won Gold and set a third world record. I will like to meet President Muhammadu Buhari and I want him to make us proud too.”