By Dorcas Jonah
Sports enthusiasts observe that the performance of sports industry in 2018 was exciting that ought to be sustained.
According to them, Nigeria has made its mark in global sports competition by which the national team — Super Eagles — remains one of the best ten teams in the world.
Available records show that Nigeria made its first appearance at the Amputee World Cup where Nigeria’s amputee football team took part in the 2018 Amputee World Cup in Mexico.
This came after three failed attempts in the past due to financial constraints.
Guinness Plc. Brand Ambassador Goodluck Obieze captained the Amputee Eagles.
Team Nigeria also competed at the 2018 Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast, Australia, finishing ninth position on the medal table with 24 medals.
Similarly, Team Nigeria to the 3rd African Youth Games in Algiers, Algeria, was a memorable feat as the team returned home with 105 medals won from 19 sports.
The team won 29 gold medals, 33 silver medals and 43 bronze medals, with weightlifting giving it the richest haul of a total of 18 medals, comprising 12 gold medals, five silver medals and one bronze medal.
In another feat, Nigeria’s D’Tigress became the first African side to win more than one game in a single World Cup tournament, at the International Basketball Federation (FIBA), Women World Cup in Spain.
D’Tigress then moved on to the quarter-finals of the competition where the “Tigress’’ finished eighth in the final classification.
The Coach Otis Hughley tutored side recorded three wins in a row defeating Turkey, Argentina, and Greece before losing to eventual champions; U.S. in the quarter-final, much to the delight of basketball fans and Africa.
Further to that, Nigeria’s Evelyn Akhator was shortlisted as one of the best Rebounder in the tournament.
Nigeria’s men national basketball team, D’Tigers, also became the first team to officially qualify for the FIBA 2019 World Cup in China with a comprehensive 114/69 win over the Central Africa Republic in the qualifying series played in Lagos.
D’Tigers returned to the FIBA World Cup for the first time since 2006, having missed out of the 2010 and 2014 editions of the championships.
But Nigeria’s participation at the Youth Olympic Games in Buenos, Argentina, was an embarrassing outing as they finished in distance 48th position on the medal table with just four medals.
That challenge notwithstanding, the 21st edition of the Confederation of African Athletics Senior Championships tagged “Asaba 2018’’ was held in Delta with Team Nigeria clinching third position after winning nine gold medals, five silver medals and five bronze medals.
Also in 2018, Nigeria’s Bobsled and Skeleton teams featured at the Pyeongchang Games in South Korea.
The trio of Seun Adigun, Ngozi Onwumere and Akuoma Omeoga, who participated at the event, took 20th position in the women’s category.
Team Nigeria at the Pyeongchang Games was the centre of admiration and this was good for the tenderfoot athletes that had at long last attained their goal at the games.
Team Nigeria also competed at the 2018 Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast, Australia, finishing ninth position on the medal table with nine gold medals, nine silver medals and six bronze medals.
The country also hosted the U-21 Africa Volleyball Boys Championship where Nigeria failed to qualify for the U-21 Volleyball World Championships billed for Tunisia in 2019.
Team Nigeria ended their campaign at the U-21 Africa Volleyball Boys Championship held in Abuja, where Egypt and Tunisia took home the African slots for the next edition of junior World championships in 20.
Nigeria also hosted the 5th African Wrestling Championship in Port Harcourt where the country took the overall champions.
Nigeria at home did not perform badly as the Nigeria Volleyball Federation began the Nigeria Volleyball League which has been in moribund for some years.
The league was revived with Nigerian Customs Service and male and female teams emerged champions in both categories.
The Cycling Federation of Nigeria was also not left out in the 2018 outstanding performance at national and international events.
The federation has increased awareness on cycling as a sports and an exercise to keep fit.
The removal of cooking stoves at the Abuja Velodrome was also a major achievement to prepare it for certification by the Union Cycling International.
Similarly, the 19th National Sports Festival was held in Abuja after six years of none hosting.
Delta emerged the winner with 163 gold medals, 88 silver medals and 101 bronze medals to beat the other participating teams to the number one position.
Originally meant to be biennial multi-sports events to foster unity and help unearth new talents, enthusiasts observe that the glory of the National Sports Festival (NSF) has been fading and virtually knocked to comatose since the last edition was held in Lagos almost six years ago.
Youth and Sports Minister Solomon Dalung observed that it took the ministry the doggedness it required to get the NSF back to life with Edo promising to host NSF 20th edition in Benin.
Malam Tunde Kareem, the Chairman, Directors of Sports Forum, scored Nigeria performance in sports in 2018 at 80 per cent.
He noted that if the stakeholders addressed some challenges in the sector, the country would do better in sports in 2019.
Dalung also corroborated Kareem’s view, observing that “2019 holds better opportunity for sports in Nigeria’’.
Athletics, Badminton, Basketball, Baseball, Boxing, Chess, Cricket, Cycling, Football, Gymnastics, Golf, Handball, Hockey, Judo, Lawn Tennis, Rowing, Shooting, Squash rackets, Swimming, Table Tennis, Ping-Pong, Taekwondo, Volleyball, Weight-lifting and Wrestling feature in Nigeria’s sports programme.
However, Nigeria usually participates in soccer, judo, wrestling, boxing, weightlifting, tennis, long jump, triple jump, table-tennis and the sprints in Olympics.