Memorable moments in Nigerian sport since independence


Nigeria has enjoyed a handful of glorious days in various sporting events since becoming independent in 1960. Year after year, sporting events have remained a uniting factor in Africa’s most populous nation, breaking down borders ethnic and religious.

In this piece, AUGUSTINE AKHILOMEN from highlights 31 such moments that Nigerians will never forget in a hurry.

1. 1952: Nigeria makes its first appearance at the Olympic Games

Nigeria first competed in the 1952 Olympics and the country has not missed the games since then, with the exception of the boycotted 1976 edition of Canada.

Zenith Ziva

2. 1954 Commonwealth Games: lfeajuna wins gold in the high jump

The late Emmanuel lfeajuna won a gold medal in the high jump at the 1954 Commonwealth Games.

3. 1957: Bassey crowned world champion in featherweight boxing

Hogan ‘Kid’ Bassey became the king of the featherweight boxing world in 1957. Hogan was the first Nigerian-British born boxer to become a world boxing champion after shedding blood to win a featherweight fight in 1957 in Liverpool .

4. 1964: Nigeria’s first Olympic medal in men’s lightweight middleweight boxing

Nojeem Maiyegun represented Nigeria at the 1964 Summer Olympics in Tokyo, Japan, then won the bronze medal in the men’s light middleweight category and made history as the first medalist. Nigeria Olympic.

5. 1979: Andeh claims the amateur boxing world title

In 1979, Davidson Andeh became the first and only Nigerian to win the lightweight amateur boxing world championship against a Russian opponent, in Belgrade, Yugoslavia.

6. 1980: the Green Eagles are CAN champions

Nigeria tasted the feeling of championing when the Green Eagles beat Morocco in the Africa Cup of Nations final in 1980 to win their first major senior title in football.

7. 1984: Nigerian 4 × 400 relay team makes Olympic history

Nigeria won their first ever Olympic track and field medal at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics in the 4x400m relay event. The quartet of Innocent Egbunike, Sunday Uti, Moses Ugbisie and Rotimi Peters won the bronze medal with an Africa record of 2: 59.32.

8. 1985: Golden Eaglets win FIFA Under-16 World Championship title

The Golden Eaglets became the first winners of the FIFA U-17 World Cup, known as the FIFA / Kodak U-16 World Championship, held in China in 1985. The team coached by Sébastien Brodericks and Christian Chukwu beat Germany in the 2- 0 final, with goals from Babatunde Joseph and Jonathan Akpoborie.

9. 1989: the miracle of Damman

Nigeria’s Under-20 football team the Flying Eagles recorded one of the biggest comebacks in football history at the FIFA Under-20 World Cup hosted by Arabia Arabia in 1989. The team went from four goals to a 4-4 draw against the USSR, then went on to win the quarter-final match 5-4 on penalties. It was the closest for the Flying Eagles to winning the tournament which was ultimately won by Portugal.

10. 1989: Okwaraji collapses and dies in national service

It was a tragedy, but it is an iconic moment in the history of sport in Nigeria. Samuel Okwaraji, a national team midfielder, collapsed and died. He collapsed in the middle of the pitch in the 77th minute of a FIFA World Cup qualifier against Angola on August 12, 1989. An autopsy revealed the 25-year-old had an enlarged heart. and high blood pressure.

11. Barcelona 1992 Olympics: Nigeria wins four gold medals

The most medals Nigeria has ever won at the Summer Olympics are the two it won at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics, but figures like Oluyemi Kayode, Olapade Adeniken, Mary Onyali and Christy Opara Thompson made history by winning four.

12. 1993: Yekini wins African footballer of the year award

The tiara for the best African football player had eluded Nigerian players until the late Rashidi Yekini in 1994 showed he was a cut above the rest. The first Nigerian player to score in the FIFA World Cup, the former 3SC and Vitoria Setubal striker was the linchpin of the Super Eagles squad that won the African Cup of Nations title. 1994 and reached the height of the No. 5 ranked team in the world. .

13. 1994 & 2013: the Super Eagles are CAN champions

After winning their first AFCON title in 1980, the Super Eagles won the African titles of 1994 and 2013 after defeating Zambia and Burkina Faso respectively in the final.

14. 1996 Atlanta Olympics: Nigeria Wins Historic Football Gold Medal

Nigeria, against all odds, became the first African country to win the Olympic football gold medal that Dream Team 1 won at the Olympic Games in Atlanta ’96. Nigeria beat Argentina in the final 3-1 to clinch the title. The team, led by Nwankwo Kanu, took the roundabout route; coming from 3-1 in Brazil in the semifinals to win 4-3 with a sudden-death goal from Nwankwo Kanu.

15. 1996: Ajunwa wins Nigeria’s first Olympic gold medal

Chioma Ajunwa became the first Nigerian athlete to win an Olympic gold medal and is also the first black African woman to win an Olympic gold medal in a field event. She remains Nigeria’s only individual Olympic gold medalist to date.

16. 1998: Super Falcons win the first AWCON

The Super Falcons fought their way to win the first African Women’s Championship [AWCON] in 1998, where they beat Ghana 2-0 in their last game in Abeokuta, Ogun State. Nigeria’s national women’s team today won Africa’s best women’s tournament 11 times, a record.

17. 2000: Offoin becomes the first Nigerian swimmer at the 2000 Olympics

Gentle Offoin qualified for the 2000 Olympics and competed in the 100m freestyle where he crashed in the first round.

18. 2003: Enyimba wins the elusive CAF Champions League title

Aba’s Enyimba FC won Nigeria’s first Champions League crown – the CAF Champions League in 2003. This trophy eluded Nigeria for 38 years, with three traditional Rangers FC teams, in 1975, Shooting Stars Sports Club [3SC], in 1984 and 1996, Iwuanyanwu Nationale [former Spartans of Owerri], in 1988 after almost ending the drought, but all three teams were beaten in the final of the competition. Enyimba, coached by Kadiri Ikhana, beat Ismail of Egypt 2-1 on aggregate to end the spell. They also retained the title in 2004.

19. 2006. Fasuba breaks Frederick’s 100m record

Olusoji Fasuba set a new 100m 9.85s record at the Doha Grand Prix in May 2006, breaking Frankie Fredericks’ record of 9.86 set in 1996.

20. 2007 & 2009: Nigeria double African beach soccer champion

Nigeria have won the African Beach Soccer Championship twice. The Sand Eagles won the tournament in 2007 and 2009. They finished second in 2006 and 2011. The team won bronze in 2015 and finished fourth in 2013.

21. 2008: Samuel Peters wins WBC heavyweight title

Samuel Peter was one of Nigeria’s best boxers. The whole country saw him win the WBC Heavyweight title in 2008, beating Oleg Maskaev by TKO.

22. Beijing 2008 Olympic Games: Chukwumerije wins bronze in taekwondo at

Chika Yagazie Chukwumerije qualified for the 2008 Olympic Games and defeated Akmal Irgashev of Uzbekistan to win Nigeria’s first bronze medal in taekwondo at the Beijing 200i Olympic Games.

23. 2008: Toriola completes her seventh consecutive participation in the Olympic Games

Segun Toriola, the grandfather of Nigerian table tennis, is the only African and Nigerian of all sports to have participated in seven different Olympic Games – from 1992 in Barcelona to the Olympic Games in Beijing in 2008 where he achieved his best. results. – passage to the third round. Toriola, now 46, was ranked No.1 in Africa for 10 consecutive years, between 1998 and 2008.

24. 2014: Quad named best of the ITTF

Aruna Quadri was named a star player of the International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) in 2014. He was also voted best male player ahead of then world number one Xu Xin of China.

25. 2015: Jighere wins the world scrabble title

Nigerian Wellington Jighere won the Scrabble World Title in 2015 and thus became the first African player to be crowned Scrabble World Champion. He beat Lewis MacKay in four consecutive rounds to win the inaugural WESPA Championship. Jighere is double African Scrabble champion and 12 times national champion.

26. 2015: D’Tigers win FIBA ​​Afrobasket title

The men’s national basketball team, the D’Tigers, won their first-ever FIBA ​​Africa title in Tunisia in 2015. They beat their eternal nemesis, Angola, 74-65 in the final.

27. 2015: Okagbare sets Guinness record with Diamond League appearances

In 2015, Blessing Okagbare entered his name in the Guinness Book of Records for most competing in the Diamond League – 38, competing in the 100m, 200m and long jump events.

28. 2015: Nigeria’s Golden Eaglets win the FIFA U-17 World Cup

The Golden Eaglets won the 2015 FIFA U-17 World Cup where they beat Mali in the final. They also won the competitions in 1993, 2007 and 2013 respectively.

29. Rio 2016 Olympic Games: Kehinde breaks records

Paul Kehinde, a Nigerian powerlifter, twice broke the men’s 65 kg world record at the Rio 2016 Games, to win the gold medal. The Powerlifter lifted 220 kg to break the world record he held. He was decorated with the Order of Niger [MON] awarded by the Nigerian government in 2016.

30. 2021: D’Tigress is FIBA ​​AfroBasket champion for the third time

D’Tigress became the second African team to win three consecutive Women’s AfroBasket titles after Senegal did the same in the 1970s. The Nigerians became African champions after winning over Mali in the final match. of the FIBA ​​Women’s AfroBasket 2021.

31. 2021: Bose Omolayo wins Paralympic gold medal

Omolayo won gold at the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games. She won gold in the women’s 79kg powerlifting event at the Tokyo Paralympic Games.

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