By Femi Solaja
In what looks like a repeat of the first edition of the Nigerian Sports Award in 2012, men and women of the Nigerian Paralympics team to the Rio2016 Paralympic Games dominated the 5th edition of the award as Kehinde Paul and Lucy Ejike emerged Sportsman and Sportswoman of the year last Friday.
The duo also won the Special Sports Person of the Year (Men) and Special Sport Person of the Year (Women) Categories. Paul won gold medal in the men’s Power-lifting -65Kg category while Ejike did not only won gold in the 79kg, 86kg and 61kg power-lifting event respectively at the 2016 Paralympics games, but also set new Paralympic Record (PR) and World Record (WR) by lifting 136kg, followed by a lift of 138kg, and then a massive lift of 142kg.
Coach of the Power-lifting team, Coach Are Feyisetan emerged Coach of the Year, beating Coach Samson Siasia of the Nigerian Olympic football team (Dream Team VI) and Coach of Enugu Rangers Coach Imama Amapakabo.
Enugu Rangers’ midfielder, Chisom Egbuchulam emerged Footballer of the Year ahead of Manchester City starlet, Kelechi Iheanacho and Godwin Obaje of Wikki Tourist, while Enugu Rangers FC of Enugu won the Team of the Year award ahead of the Dream Team 6 Olympic football team. The Flying Antelopes who won the 2015/2016 Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) ended a 32-year old jinx last winning the league in 1984.
In the Journalist Category of the Award, Moses Praiz of SuperSport was awarded the TV Journalist of the Year; the Photo Journalist of the Year award went to Ayodele Ojo of Daily Sun, Lekan Okusan of The Nation emerged as the Print Journalist of the Year. Olawale Adigun of Top Radio emerged as the Radio Journalist of the Year.
In commemoration of the fifth edition of the award, Special Recognition Award was given to some deserving sport personalities. The first was given out to the League Management Company in recognition of its great job of turning around the Nigerian League.
The next Special Recognition Award went to Nigeria first sporting heroes among who are the Nduka Ugbade-led 1985 Under-16 FIFA World Cup winning team. They were represented by two members of the team, Imama Amapakabo and Jonathan Akpoborie.
The third Special Recognition Award went to Atlanta ’96 Olympic Gold Medal winning Football Team captained by Kanu Nwankwo, were represented at the event by the trio of Emmanuel Babayaro, Dosu Joseph and Victor Ikpeba.
Also Nigeria’s 4X400 Relay Quartet that won silver but was later upgraded to gold with the ban of the US team at Sydney 2000 Olympic Games were also given the Special Recognition Award.
The duo of Maureen Mmadu and Joseph Yobo won the Special Recognition Awards for being the first ever Nigerian male and female to achieve 100 caps respectively.