NIGERIA had her fair share in the participation of sports in the year 2021, from unbelievably winning USA in a basketball friendly to sacking Gernot Rohr as the Super Eagles coach.
Due to the aftermath of the coronavirus, the annual National Sports Festival which was to hold in March, Edo 2020 was postponed on three occasions and was finally held between march 22- 2021 April 2021. Delta State emerged double winners at the Edo 2020 National Sports Festival, winning the games with 158 gold, 116 silver and 110 bronze medals. The Big Heart state was also handed the flag as the next host of the NSF in 2022.
Host Edo State was the runner up with 129 gold, 104 silver and 108 bronze medals while Bayelsa State was third with 56 gold, 55 silver and 58 bronze medals.
Sokoto and Taraba States were the bottom two teams with only three and two bronze medals to place 36th and 37th respectively. The competition brought out a special talent 10-year old Stephanie Onusiriuka from Anambra State. She was a cynosure to behold as she unarguably turned the youngest star of the National Sports Festival.
She won a gold, two silver and a bronze medal in gymnastics. This goes a long way to show that the future of gymnastics and sports in general in Anambra State is really bright. Her performance caught the attention of the Edo State Deputy Governor, who was on ground to witness the performance of this young rare gem and also, her primary sponsor, Gov Willie Obiano, who rewarded her immediately after the event.
On the foreign scene, Nigerian born US based athlethe, Uche Eke showed his patriotism by representing the country in Cairo Egypt, in the 2021 African Gymnastics. Although gymnastic is foreign to the country, he bagged third position and ended up with the bronze medal. The team, which included seven NBA players and was led by Golden State Warriors assistant coach Mike Brown, was called up for training in the United States in June 2021. In March 2021, the global governing body FIBA ranked Nigeria as Africa’s top men’s basketball nation. As the top African team at the 2019 FIBA Basketball
World Cup, Nigeria qualified for their third consecutive Olympics berth for the 2020 Summer Olympics. D’Tigers defeated the United States 90–87 during an exhibition game in Las Vegas on 10 July. The victory, described as an “upset”, was the first for the team backed up their weekend achievement by beating world fourth ranked team Argentina 94-71. That was also a first for an African nation. But fail to win Australia
Although the Olympic was supposed to take place last year but due to the coronavirus pandemic, it was postponed to this year, the coronavirus was not the only pandemic that plagued Nigeria. The country continued her poor form in the Olympics by winning only two medals which were bagged in long jump by Ese Brume and Blessing Obuduru in Wrestling. Nigeria also suffered mass disqualification as over 10 athletes were discharged over doping tests.
On July 28, 2021, the Athletics Integrity Unit announced that Nigeria had failed to meet the minimum drug testing requirements as per “Rule 15”, which requires at least three no-notice outside of competition blood and urine drug tests no less than three weeks apart for 10 of their athletes. As such, all 10 athletes were disqualified from participating in their events
Uche Eke became the first athlete to represent Nigeria in gymnastics at the Olympics after participating in the Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympics artistic gymnastics event, where he finished 36th overall
D,tigers could not maintain their momentum as they ended in the bottom table having faced Germany, Australia, Italy and not winning 1 game.
Other highlights for this year in sports include Gernort Rohr being sacked and replaced by past player Augustine Eguavoen, Super Eagles qualification to the world cup Qatar 2022, Efe Ajagba suffering his first lost to Frank Sanchez.
Aruna Quadri ranked 15th place in tennis and in the process, erased the earlier 16th-place achieved by Egyptian Omar Assar’s in January 2018.