Team Nigeria Opens Medals Account with Two Silver

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* Blake edges Ogunlewe to claim 100m bronze

Femi Solaja

After four days of fruitless hunt, Team Nigeria finally opened her account for medals at the ongoing XXI Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast, Australia on Monday with two silver medals from table tennis team event and shot put.

The feat in both events came moments after Nigeria lost out completely in the much advertised men’s 100m final in which the duo of Seye Ogunlewe and Enoch Adegoke placed fourth and seventh respectively.

Akani Simbine of South Africa claimed the sprint gold in a time of 10.03 while his compatriot, Henricho Bruintjies settled for the silver.

Jamaican Johan Blake who was tipped for the gold ran a photo finish 10.19 with Nigerian Ogunlewe but computer print out gave the bronze to the Jamaican.

However, the disappointment on the track lasted less than an hour for Nigerians at the Games as the country’s men table tennis players won a silver after been trashed 3-0 in the team event by India.

A power-packed team of Segun Toriola, Bode Abiodun and Olajide Omotayo allowed the Indian team a repeat of Melbourne 2006 feat at Gold Coast when the trio of Sharath Kamal Achanta, Sathiyan Gnanasekaran and Harmeet Desai race to the gold.

Abiodun started the first game with so much hope as he romped into 11 – 4 win for the first set. But it was the Indian Sharath who bounced back to claim the three remaining sets at 11 -5, 11 – 4, 11 – 9.

The second set which many hoped to be for Nigeria also went to India. Segun Toriola, the most experienced player from Africa could not find answers to India’s Gnanasekaran who towed the line of his compatriot to beat Toriola 3 -1.

When the pair of Omotayo and Abiodun mounted the table for the third and last game, it was a huge mountain to climb for the Nigerians. They were equally beaten 3-0.

But the defeat brought smiles to the faces of Team Nigeria officials who celebrated and welcomed the first medal- a silver.

In his post match interview, Coach Nosiru Bello, blamed his ward’s loss to India in the final match to fatigue and injury suffered by player en-route to the important match against the winner.

“We were tired as we only rested 40 minutes before the commencement of the final against India. Segun Toriola had a muscle injury but still gave his best. The Indians played their semi final in the morning and rested better than us. We played our semi final and hardly rested before the final. That lack of rest affected us badly,” Bello said at the secretariat of Team Nigeria at the Games.

Team Nigeria’s table tennis star, Aruna Quadri, who did not play in the team event explained that he was under the weather and decided to skip the event.

“I was not feeling fine. I decided to recuperate and play the singles,” Quadri stressed.

Later on in the day, Chukwuemeka Enekwechi, won Nigeria’s first track and field medal finishing second in the Shot put event. He threw a Personal Best of 21.14m to win the silver medal.

With the jinx broken yesterday, Team Nigeria athletes are looking forward to more medals as the paralympic events get underway from today.