The Ongoing Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, which began on Friday 23rd of July came with cheering news for the sports faithful after the Olympic games did not hold last year due to the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic. This edition of the Olympics does not have fans in attendance. There will be over 11,000 athletes from 205 countries competing in 339 events in 33 sports.
For Team Nigeria, this will be the 17th Olympics appearance. The country will be represented by 60 athletes who will take part in 10 sports.
There are mixed feelings for the country as its most successful outing was in 1996 when Chioma Ajunwa and the U-23 mens football team both brought home gold medals from the Olympics.
The only other time team Nigeria got the gold medal was in year 2000 when the 4x400m men’s relay team had their silver medal upgraded to gold after a member of the American team, who had won the gold medal, failed in a dope test.
So far, Nigeria has won 10 silver medals and 12 bronze medals with athletics bringing in five silver and 5 bronze medals. Three silver medals and three bronze medals were won in boxing event. football also has one silver medal and one bronze medal, weightlifting has one silver and one bronze medal, while taekwondo has also provided one bronze medal.
Nigeria’s hopes for medals at the Olympics are limited to only the categories where we have representatives who are at par with the best in their events. Ese Brume and Odunayo Adekuoroye are Nigeria’s biggest prospects for medals at the Games. They have both been in excellent form going into the Olympics.
Ese Brume, a bronze medalist at the 2019 World Championships, leapt 7.17m in May to set the World Lead and break Ajunwa’s Olympics gold-winning African long jump record while Odunayo Adekuoroye is also ranked as the number 1 wrestler in the world in the women’s 57kg category.
Another potential medallist for Nigeria at the Olympics will be the silver medallist in the long jump event at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, Blessing Okagbare, she will be competing in the women’s 100m, 200m and 4x100m. Tobi Amusan is also another prospect, she is ranked fourth in the women’s 100m hurdles.
During the pre-Olympics exhibition games, D’tigers were very impressive defeating USA and Argentina. USA is ranked first and Argentina fourth in the world respectively and the victory over these highly placed teams has seen the Nigerian men’s basketball team as having a chance in Tokyo as they were also recently ranked fourth on the Power Ranking out of the 12 teams competing at the Olympics. Although they lost in their opening game to Australia in the tournament, they will be looking to bounce back.
Another athlete to watch is the Nigerian captain in Tokyo. He believes that the Nigerian team will do exploits at the Olympics and Nigerians are also hopeful that the team brings home some medals. Table tennis star Aruna Quadri, was the first African to qualify for the quarter-finals of the Olympics in Rio in 2016.
Nigerians are hopeful that we can get some medals at the tournament from the favourites, or we might even get surprises from some new comers.
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