7 Best Nigerian Medal Hopes For Tokyo Olympics
by Chidi Nwoke.
Team Nigeria athletes representing the country at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games will be hoping to make the country proud by winning medals with a total of 58 athletes competing when the Games get underway from July 23 until August 8, 2021 in Japan.
Five years on from Rio and a year late due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Olympics are finally here. Nigerian athletes will be hard-pushed to better the single medal won at the Rio Olympics. Nigeria left Rio de Janeiro with only a bronze medal won by the men’s football squad, beating Honduras 3-2 in the match.
As part of Voice of Nigeria’s build-up to the Games, we will beam the spotlight on the 7 best Nigerians who are set to shine brightest at the Olympics Games in Tokyo.
Quadri Aruna (Table Tennis)
Team Nigeria Captain for the Tokyo Olympics, Quadri Aruna, was listed among the top 15 seeded players in the men’s singles table tennis event. The Nigerian table tennis star has been considered as one of the star players to watch out for in the table tennis event at the Tokyo Olympics.
He will be hoping to exceed his quarterfinal finish at Rio 2016 in Japan and finished with a medal.
Aruna qualified for the Olympics based on his world ranking, and he will be competing for Gold against 64 other players at the Tokyo Olympics.
Blessing Okagbare (Track & Field)
Blessing Okagbare is ready to make a legitimate claim for a sprint medal at the Olympic Games in Tokyo after becoming the joint second-fastest woman in history over 100 metres at the Nigeria Olympics Trials in Lagos.
The legendary Nigerian sprinter scorched to a 10.63 seconds finish at the Sports Complex of the Yaba College of Technology to set a new Nigerian and African record and tie Jamaican Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce’s 2021 world lead.
Okagbare, 32, says the race has given her renewed confidence of a memorable performance at the delayed 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo, five years after she failed to make it to the final of the 100m at the Rio Olympics. The Nigerian has now emerged one of the favourites for the 100m gold at the Tokyo Olympics alongside Fraser-Pryce
Elizabeth Anyancho (Taekwondo)
The 21-year-old Elizabeth Anyancho is the first Nigerian female Taekwondo athlete to qualify for the Olympics in 16 years after Olympian Princess Dudu achieved the feat at the 2004 Olympics in Athens.
Anyanacho and her mentor, Chika Chukwumerije, have in the past months worked tirelessly for a good outing in Tokyo. The 300 Level Statistics undergraduate of the Federal University of Technology, Owerri (FUTO) has fought her way to the Olympic Games with a handful of national and international laurels to her credit.
She recently won gold at Beirut Open. Seeded 13th in the Olympic ranking, Anyanacho will face fourth seed, Nur Tatar from Turkey in the 67kg category in her first fight in the round of 16 on July 26.
D’Tigers Olympic Medal hopes were boosted after wins against top ranked USA, and fourth ranked Argentina in exhibition games. Nigeria caused a big upset and become the first African country to hand USA a rare defeat in a Basketball match, beating their opposition 90-87 points.
Mike Brown’s side secured the victory against a USA team that had NBA stars Kevin Durant, Damian Lillard, Bam Adebayo & Jayson Tatum on the court. Nigeria also beat Argentina in a moral boosting win in another friendly.
The victories will be a rude awakening to other teams who might not consider D’tigers a huge medal prospect heading to Tokyo. Australia be Nigeria’s first opponent at the Olympic Games with the Group B game taking place in Saitama on July 25. Germany and Italy are also in Group B.
Odunayo Adekuoroye (Wrestling)
Team Nigeria have strong medal prospects in reigning Commonwealth wrestling champion Odunayo Adekuoroye. The 3-time World Championship medalist Adekuoroye, and four other Nigerian wrestlers will be attempting to do what none of their compatriots have been able to do at the Games previously, winning an Olympic medal.
Adekuoroye says she is not under any form of pressure ahead of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics in Japan, and remains confident of claiming a historic gold medal for Nigeria in wrestling.
Having established herself globally as one of the best wrestlers in the 57kg category, expectations are high that the 27-year-old would deliver Nigeria’s first-ever wrestling medal in Tokyo.
Divine Oduduru (Track & Field)
Sprinter Divine Oduduru really shot to the running scene when finishing second behind Usain Bolt on his Olympic debut at Rio in 2016. This saw him run a personal best of 20.34s at the time and he was also the only Nigerian male sprinter to have made it into a semi-final at the event.
He has now continued to make great improvement since turning pro, breaking numerous NCAA high school records, when running for Texas Tech. His 100m time has also continued to be improved upon and he is now the joint 2nd fastest African sprinter of all-time, with a time of 9.86s.
Oduduru also won the silver medal at the 200 and 400 meter events at the African Games and he also debuted at a number of World Championships. He is fast improving and is clearly now one of the fastest sprinters in the world, and is setting his sights on success in Tokyo as he has a very strong chance of picking up a medal.
Ese Brume (Long Jump)
Ese Brume has established herself as one of the best jumpers in the world. She made her first appearance at the 2016 Rio Olympics where she finished a respectable 5th.
Since then, she has continued to improve greatly and in 2018 made her Diamond league debut appearance, whilst also equalling her Personal Best and winning a third successive title in the Long jump at the African championships.
She has since won a Bronze medal at the World Championships, which was also the first medal for Nigeria at the competition in the last six years. Ese Brume is amongst the favourites for a medal and even Gold in Tokyo and clearly goes in as one of the leading hope for Nigeria.
Voice of Nigeria wishes all Olympians representing Team Nigeria the very best when the Games flag off on July 23.