It was one-way traffic for Team Nigeria at the 2020 Paralympic Games in Tokyo.
22 athletes represented Nigeria at the 2020 Paralympic Games, which is still ongoing in Tokyo, Japan, just one short of the number that represented Nigeria at the 2016 Games in Rio.
However, Team Nigeria only managed six medals in total, the lowest tally since Nigeria’s debut at the Paralympic in Barcelona 92.
Nigeria’s only medals at the Games have so far come only in one event, Powerlifting.
After the curtain dropped on Powerlifting actions at the Paralympic, only China won more medals (13) than Nigeria.
Latifat Tijani won Nigeria’s first medal at the Paralympics, a Gold Medal, which came after she lifted 107kg to finish first in the -45kg, on Thursday, August 26, 2021.
The next medal for Nigeria was Bronze, won by Lucy Ejike. She started with a lift of 130kg in the -61kg women’s category, but her opponents, Mexico’s Amalia Perez (131kg) and Uzbekistan’s Ruza Kuzieva (130kg), matched her effort.
She failed in her last two attempts at 135kg and had to settle for Bronze Medal. That continued her impressive Paralympic medal haul since her debut at the Sidney in 2000, which includes three Gold Medals, two Silver Medals, plus her recent Bronze Medal.
In the women’s -67kg, Olaitan Ibrahim clinched the Bronze Medal after she finished third with a lift of 119kg.
Bose Omolaya, competing in the Women’s -79kg, continued Nigeria’s success in Powerlifting with a Gold Medal win.
Omolaya set a new Paralympic Record in the process, lifting 141kg to win the event. She failed in her attempt at a World Record of 144kg.
That was the second time the Nigerian had set a Paralympic Record. At the 2016 Paralympic, she broke the women’s -79kg Paralympic Record (PR) to win Gold Medal with 138kg. It was that record that she broke at the 2020 Paralympics.
Folashade Oluwafemiayo took it further by creating a World and Paralympic Record in the Women’s -85kg.
Oluwafemiayo surpassed her previous WR of 150.5kg to win the category with a lift of 152kg to strike the Gold Medal.
She first broke the WR in London 2012 before missing out on the 2016 Paralympics.
There was a Silver Medal for Nigeria through Loveline Obiji, who finished second in the Women’s +86g category. She lifted 147kg to bring Nigeria’s medal haul at the 2020 Paralympics to six.
With these six medals, Nigerian powerlifters further underline the country’s prowess in the event.
Out of the 76 Paralympic Games’ medals for Nigeria, since its debut in 1992, 54 have now been won by Powerlifters.
Nigeria is 21st on the medal table, making the country the highest-ranked African nation in Tokyo.
Nigerian combat sports writer Dare Kuti who has been covering the Nigerian Para-Powerlifters for years told Pulse that credit for this 2020 Paralympic expliots should be given to people like Feyisetan Are, the Head coach of the Nigeria Para Powerlifting Federation.
“This is the vision of Feyisetan, who has been coaching and using his own money to fund athletes like Oluwafemiayo, Omolayo,” Kuti told Pulse.
Under the Ondo-State born coach, Nigerian Para-Powerlifters including Oluwafemiayo, Omolayo, Paul Kehinde, Jegede Bambo, Iyabo Asunmo and a host of others have thrived to become World Champions and Paralympic champions.
Are, who is also the Technical Director of Nigeria Para Powerlifting Federation, was also instrumental to the country hosting the first-ever International Para Powerlifting Championship in January 2018 in Lagos.