Four Nigerians Qualify For The Olympics

By Esther Effiong, Abuja

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Team Nigeria at the weekend finished second behind champions, South Africa, at the ninth African Canoe Olympic qualifier held at Jabi Lake, Abuja. Four Nigerians also qualified for the Paris 2024 Olympic Games from the championship.

The four-day Confederation of African Canoeing (CAC) Canoe Sprint/Para-canoe African Championships, which also served as a Paris 2024 Olympics qualifier, featured 16 countries, including Ghana, Senegal, Sao Tome and Principe, Togo and host Nigeria.

The athletes competed for medals and Olympics tickets in C1 200m women, C2 500m women, C1 1000m men, C2 500m men, K1 1000m men, K2 500m men, K1 500m women and K2 500m women.

The winner in each category qualified directly for the Games, while the second and third placed athletes would have to explore other windows of qualification to compete in Paris next year.

Table-topper team South Africa amassed a total of nine medals, including eight gold and one bronze to emerge as the overall winners.

Team Nigeria also won nine medals, including four gold, four silver and one bronze to finish as runners-up.

Tunisia, with a total of 15 medals, including three gold, five silver and seven bronze finished in the third position, while Senegal, with a total of five medals, including three gold, one silver and one bronze, settled for the fourth position.

Algeria with 12 medals, including two gold, seven silver and three bronze came fifth, while Angola with seven medals, including two gold, two silver and three bronze placed sixth.

In seventh position was Mozambique with three medals, comprising two gold and one silver, while Egypt with 12 medals (one gold, five silver and six silver) completed the top eight teams.

Morocco with one gold and one silver were ninth, while both Sao Tome and Principe, as well as Ghana were joint 10th with two bronze medals each. Both Seychelles and Cote d’Ivoire ended the championships with no single medal to their credit.

Nigeria’s Ayomide Bello, who finished as the overall best woman athlete, won three gold medals in all the three events she competed for, including the C1 women 200m (55secs. 14ms), C1 Women 500m (two minutes 23seconds. 74ms).

She also combined well with Otuedo Beauty in the C2 Women 500m (two minutes, 24seconds.45ms) to win the event.

The duo of Endurance GodHelp and Celestine Etoi also won gold for Nigeria in K2 men 200m (38 seconds 20 ms).