Looking Back at WAUG 2018: How UNIPORT Hosted and Won With An Amazing Medal Tally
Nigeria had the honours of hosting the 2018 West Africa Universities Games (WAUG), often referred to as the Olympics Games of West Africa students with the sports facilities at University of Port Harcourt, and amidst complaint about low funding from the State Government, participants could be said to have had an amazing time.
Dominance in Taekwondo, chess, swimming and hockey propelled the hosts in emerging overall champions at the games, as they won all available gold medals in the above listed events. The 13 day competition, had over 5000 student-athletes representing 16 countries compete for medals in 16 events, with athletics attracting the most crowd – a promising trend for the region and the continent.
Joy Udo Gabriel, Commonwealth relay bronze medalist became the fastest West African University female student after winning gold in the 100 meters sprint with a time of 11.63s, while Balikis Yakubu who ran completed the race in 11.65s went home with silver and Grace Nwokocha took bronze for UNIPORT in 11.71s.
Another Melbourne 2018 athlete, Enoch Adegoke of the Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU) was present at the games, and reached the men’s 100m final, just like he did in Melbourne, this time winning gold ahead of Youth Olympic Games silver medalist, Alaba Akintola, who finished second for the Federal University of Technology (FUTA) in 10.41s behind Enoch’s 10.21s run. Bronze medal went to Barnabas Aggreh with a time of 10.51s. In a 200m rematch, Alaba upset Enoch grabbing gold with a time of 21.47s, while the OAU athlete finished closely behind in 21.49s. UNILAG’s Peter Anyaegbuna was third in 21.70s.
There was another upset in the women’s 200m final, with silver medalist in 100m Balikis Yakubu clinching gold ahead of Praise Idamadudu of UNIPORT in a lifetime best time of 23.92s. The. UNIPORT athlete finished five hundredth of a second behind Yakubu.
More impressive victories came in the men’s and women’s 400m final where Emmanuel Nimo of University of Ghana (UG) won the men’s race in 47.67s ahead of University of Benin (UNIBEN) athlete Victor Akhalu and compatriot Etiamkwaku Torgbenu. Favour Ofili needed a lifetime best to also upset Praise Idamadudu, who could only settle for bronze behind Rafiatu Nuhu of University of Development Studies (UDS) Ghana. The track and field event continued to see large turnouts of spectators till the final day, which was highlighted by the relay finals. In the men’s 100m final, UDS Ghana won gold ahead of UNILAG and in the Women’s 4 ×100m relay, Grace Nwokocha ran a splendid anchor leg to win gold ahead of UNILAG and UDS.
In the men’s 4 × 400m final however, University of Ghana won gold ahead of FUTA and UNIPORT, with a UG team made of singles gold and bronze medalist Emmanuel Nimo and Etiamkwaku Torgbenu.
The hosts – UNIPORT – were overall champions after accumulating 67 gold, 31 silver and 23 bronze medals while UNILAG finished second overall with a total of 16 gold, 24 silver and 16 bronze medals; a wide gold margin. University of Cape Coast Ghana made sure it wasn’t an all Nigeria affair by accumulating 9 gold, 3 silver and 4 bronze medals to place third.
One of the most interesting feats of the competition was UNIPORT’s clean sweep of the swimming event, where they won all the 12 gold medals up for grabs. Their total haul in just swimming events came to 22 medals on just the opening day of the swimming events, with brilliant performances in the 200 metres Individual Medley; 100m Backstroke; 200m Backstroke; 50m Butterfly and 4x200m Freestyle Relay.
UNIPORT is fast stamping its foot on the grassroots talent discovery pipeline of the Nigerian athletic scene, and it is great to see how the presence of the needed facilities has helped push this. There are no doubts that most of the medal winning athletes would get a chance at more international and continental events, and one can only hope that they continue to impress.
Photo Credits: @makingofchamps