Attention will turn to Gold Coast this week as the XXI Commonwealth Games begins on April 4 with 71 Commonwealth teams, 275 events in 19 sports to be contested.
Team Nigeria will be participating in 10 sports which include: Athletics, Basketball, Wrestling, Weightlifting, Boxing, Table Tennis, Gymnastics, Para table tennis, Para Athletics and Para Powerlifting. Wrestling in time past has produced more medals at the Commonwealth Games than other sports for Team Nigeria.
In the 2010 Games, weightlifting got 8 of the 33 medals won, athletics had 4 while wrestling carted away with 13 medals in India. Four years ago, weightlifting had one less than they did in 2010 losing one medal in the 53kg after 16 year old Chika Amalaha was stripped off her gold medal for doping while wrestling had 12 medals (2 gold, 2 silver and 8 bronze) and athletics had 7 medals in Glasgow, Scotland. It will not be surprising if wrestling gets to win more medals than other sports judging by how well they have performed in the last two Games.
Notable omissions from the 12-man wrestlers unveiled at the weekend, 2010 gold medallist Ifeoma Nwoye and Hannah Reuben. They also won bronze medals in the last edition but will play no part in the 2018 edition as their weight classes were not selected by the Commonwealth. Despite the Commonwealth dropping some weight classes thereby ruling out some wrestlers, wrestling has a huge chance of winning more medals for the country.
Few days ago, sportswear giants, Nike kitted the 12 wrestlers representing Nigeria at the Games with wrestling boots/singlets, ear guards and knee pads, as part of a partial sponsorship deal struck by the federation with Nike. According to the President of the Nigeria wrestling federation, Daniel Igali, it is expected that the kits offered will be enough to motivate the wrestlers as well as the training they’ve had for over two months.
Realistically, wrestling tend to be where the medal haul will come from due to their consistent performance in the last Commonwealth Games and last two Championships in Port Harcourt . If there is a group not expected to disappoint at the Games, it’s the female wrestlers who have repeatedly proved their worth on the continent and in the world.
Below is a brief detail of all the 12 wrestlers representing Nigeria:
Mercy Genesis (50kg) and Bose Samuel (53kg) are 2015 All Africa Games medallists and will both be making their debut at the Commonwealth Games.
Blessing Oborududu (68kg): Eight-time African champion and Commonwealth bronze medallist.
Blessing Onyebuchi (76kg): Commonwealth bronze medallist, All Africa Games silver medallist and 2009 African Champion.
Aminat Adeniyi (62kg): Five-time African Champion, Commonwealth gold medallist
Odunayo Adekuoroye (57kg): She is a world silver medallist, an Olympian, four-time African Champion and Commonwealth gold medallist.
Amas Daniel (65kg): A six-time African Champion, 2014 Commonwealth Games bronze medallist and Olympian.
Melvin Bibo (86kg): Three-time African Champion and Commonwealth bronze medallist.
Soso Tamarau (97kg): An Olympian, African Champion, All Africa gold medallist and 2010 Commonwealth Games bronze medallist.
Welson Ebikewenimo (57kg): A silver medallist at the 2014 Commonwealth Games.
Amos Assizecourt (74kg): First came to limelight in December 2017 at the Governor Wike Wrestling Championship in Port Harcourt. He will be making his debut at the Games.
Sinivie Boltic (125kg): The three-time African Champion won a gold medal in the 2010 Commonwealth Games and a bronze medal four years later in Glasgow. Despite his narrow loss to Egyptian Khaled Abdalla in the final of the 2017 African Wrestling Championships, he remains one of the best in the world.