Highlights from the Nigerian National Sports Festival after a Six-year Hiatus
Shocks, shattered records and discoveries highlight the return of the multi-sports event.
Often called the baby of the Nigerian sports ministry, the “Nigerian Olympics” was resurrected in Abuja after a six-year dearth to make for the 19th edition of an event that has brought so many talent revelations.
The Nigerian Sports Festival was last hosted by Lagos in 2012, with hosting rights for the next games awarded to Cross-River state, who kept on postponing kickoff and eventually got withdrawn as hosts by the sports ministry. This biennial multi-sport competition was inaugurated in 1973 by General Yakubu Gowon, with the purpose of discovering new talents and fostering national unity after the Nigerian civil war in 1970
The National Stadium Abuja was a beehive of activities from Thursday 6th December to Sunday 16th
Victories were kicked off by Kelly Ebi Caleb of Bayelsa State who won the first gold medal of the festival in the men’s 200 cycling event. At the swimming venue,
Track and field events provided quite a number of upsets and broken records, as National Champion Ese Brume decimated the previous NSF record in the women’s long jump when she
In the men’s long jump, Onyekwelu Benjamin of Lagos won gold with a personal best jump of 7.77m. Edafiadhe Joseph finished second with 7.60m and Oshasha Afeke got bronze for Edo with a 7.38m leap. In the other athletics final on day 1, Ruth Akusho of Plateau snatched gold ahead of veteran Deborah Pam in the womens 5000m race, clocking 17:05.85s.
Day 2 of athletics witnessed the men and women’s 100m final. In the men’s race, Usheoritse Itsekiri of team Rivers stormed to victory in a PB time of 10.28s. KADA 2009 champion, Ogho Oghene-Egwero of team Delta settled for silver ahead of Enoch Adegoke, after both athletes finished in a time of 10.32s.
In the women’s final, little known Bukola Bolutife of Team Ondo ran a perfect race to clinch the gold medal in PB time of 11.45s. Defending champion Peace Uko of Team Akwa Ibom finished in 11.52s ahead of WAUG champion Joy Udo-Gabriel in 11.53s. Bolutife’s win was even more fascinating as she only qualified for the 100m final as one of the fastest losers in the semi-finals.
There was also a gold medal for team Oyo’s David Olowookere in the men’s 400m hurdles which he won in a PB time of 51.07s. The women’s race saw Rita Ossai scoop the gold medal ahead of Daisy Akpota of Edo state, finishing in 59.31s. In the
Day 3 of atheletics witnessed perhaps the biggest upset of the sports festival when Nse Imaobong Uko, a 14 year old athlete from Akwa Ibom won gold ahead of older and more experienced athletes. With a new PB time of 52.36s, she relegated African Athletics Championships bronze medalist Yinka Ajayi to silver. Praise Idamadudu rounded off the podium places in the women’s 400m race.
Nse Imaobong Uko and Quadre Barakat Oyinlomo in Tennis were the revelations of the NSF, as Quadre scooped all the gold medals she competed for winning the singles, doubles and mixed doubles events for Team Delta.
Basketball also featured pulsating games as Team FCT won the men’s gold medal, while the women’s event was won by team Rivers ahead of Lagos, who won silver and team Plateau won the bronze medal.
Back to the track, where the men’s 400m final was decided on day 3, Team Rivers’ Orukpe Erayokan was too good for the rest of the pack as he raced in a season’s best time of 46.52s to win gold.
In the field, Augustin Nwoye set a new festival record in the men’s discuss throw, with a 55.23m throw, for team Rivers. It was a Rivers 1st and 2nd finish as Kenechukwu Uze threw his discuss to 49.51m.
Day 4 was highlighted by Queen Obisesan’s new festival record in the women’s hammer throw. She erased Vivian Chukwuemeka’s Gateway 2006 record throw of 61.38m to set a new record of 64.96m. Her competition were way short of her mark, with Sophiat Omizi throwing to a distance of 55.77m for silver and Olufunke Susan with a 53.59m throw to win bronze.
Long jump bronze medallist, Grace Anigbata set a new festival record in the women’s triple jump after she lept to a distance of 13.76m to clinch gold for Team Bayelsa. Her jump erases Otonye Iworinma’s previous record set at the Gateway 2006 games of 13.60m. Mercy Honesty of Akwa Ibom won silver with a 13.10m jump, while Delta’s Abide Mercy finished third with a 13.01m jump.
The “greatest” Nigerian male athlete was revealed at the end of the Decathlon event. Peter Moreno of team Rivers scored 6219 points to win gold ahead of Samuel Osadolor of Edo state who finished with 6044 points. Melody Bassey of team Akwa Ibom finished third with 5779 points.
Day 5 of athletics witnessed Tobi Amusan racing to a new festival record time in the women’s 100m hurdles. She won in 13.03s, chalking of 51 micro seconds from the previous record set by Amaka Ogoegbunam during the 2009 KADA games. Amusan was well clear of the pack after the sixth hurdle on her wag to clinching gold for team Delta.
In the men’s 110m hurdles final, Abejoye Oyeniyi also set a new festival record, after he ran a 13.85s race. He won gold ahead of Martin Ogiriakhi of team Delta in 14.23s and bronze medallist Samuel Osadolor of team Edo who finished in 14.37s
The men’s 800m final was a battle between
The women’s high jump event saw another record set as Esther Isah of Lagos lept over the bar placed at 1.80m to win gold. Triple jump champion Grace Anigbata finished third in the event while the men’s event saw Mike Edwards equal the festival record of 2.15m after failing to clear the bar at 2.20m which would have been a new record.
In badminton, Anuolowapo Odeyori of team Lagos won the men’s singles event ahead of compatriot Godwin Olofua while the women’s doubles final saw Team Rivers clinch gold with a
Rising star, Adijat Gbadamosi became a national champion in the light-flyweight (48kg) division for women after she defeated Oyesiji Adeola of Kaduna by unanimous decision to clinch
After eleven days of activities, the Nigerian National Sports Festival came to a close, with Edo state awarded rights to host the games in 2020, still leaving Abuja as a
Below is the final medals table. See how well your state fared.