Commonwealth champion, Maryam Usman was awarded an Olympic bronze medal following the IOC’s reclassification of Beijing 2008 Games weightlifting positions due to dope related offences.
Mariam Usman decorated with Olympics medal in Abuja
Nigerian weightlifters still have the hope of taking part in the 2018 Commonwealth Games in the Gold Coast, Australia, despite their inability to compete at the on-going Commonwealth Weightlifting Championships in that country.
The nation’s plan of sending a strong team of weightlifters, made up of Chinenye Fidelis, Oluwatoyin Adesanmi, Bilikis Otunla and Mariam Usman, to Australia for the Commonwealth Games trials was unsuccessful, as the Nigerian Weightlifting Federation (NWF) was unable to secure visas for the athletes. There was also the problem of insufficient funding.
However, the Secretary General of NWF, Umar Lambu said yesterday that hopes of making it to the 2018 Commonwealth Games was not lost yet.
“Nigeria still stands a chance of making it to the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games,” Lambu said. “The qualification for next year’s Commonwealth Games will be based on countries’ rankings from October 2016 to October 2017. At the end of the on-going Weightlifting trials in Australia, new rankings will be made, and some countries, who could not attend the championship may still fall in by way of wildcard. So, it is not over for Nigeria as far as participating in the Commonwealth Games is concerned.”
Lambu stated that it was stressful for NWF to get the visas for the weightlifters because the Australian Embassy is not in Nigeria. “The nearest place we got was in South Africa.
We got the letter from the Commonwealth Weightlifting Federation late and we were unable to secure the visas at the last minute.”
Meanwhile, the Nigerian Olympic Committee (NOC) yesterday presented Mariam Usman with her Beijing Olympics Bronze medal in Abuja.
Usman finished fifth at the Games nine years ago, but was upgraded to third after the silver and bronze medalists were suspended by the IOC for anti-doping rule violations following a re-analysis of their samples from 2008.
Usman is a four-time African champion and reigning gold medalist in her category at the Commonwealth Games.
She also has a bronze medal from the 2011 World Championships in Paris.
The ceremony in Abuja yesterday was attended by the Sports Minister, Solomon Dalung, NOC President, Habu Gumel, President of Nigeria Weightlifting Federation, Mohammed Yahaya and other top officials of the Sports Ministry.