Despite the challenges and controversies that rocked the Nigerian sports scene in 2022, it was a memorable year with some outstanding performances.
There were a couple of noteworthy landmark achievements in track and field, parasports, and even soccer.
While there is optimism that 2023 could be a better year, PREMIUM TIMES, in its 2022 review, has selected these 10 remarkable feats in Nigerian sports.
Amusan shines brighter in 2022
Amusan’s exploits in 2022 were simply impressive and helped the fortunes of athletics in Nigeria.
It was one record after another, one award after another for the inspiring hurdler ‘Ijebu girl’ throughout the year.
Although the world record of 12.12 s set in Oregon and the world title that followed were the obvious picks for Amusan’s greatest moments, there was more to the year for Tobi Express.
In Birmingham, Amusan retained his Commonwealth Games title with a new games record of 12:30 s.
She also notched back-to-back Diamond League Trophy victories with a new meet record of 12.29s, closing the curtain on an incredible season that saw her win the Nigerian, African, Commonwealth, World and Diamond League titles.
Although she did not win the Global Award as the Best Female Athlete of the year, she was indisputably the best in Africa, as confirmed by the African Athletics Confederation (CAA).
Best Commonwealth Games start in Birmingham
Since its debut at the 1950 Commonwealth Games in Scotland, where Nigeria won a single silver medal, Nigeria has always strived for a podium finish in the multi-sport event designed for the former British colonies.
Therefore, the Nigerian team had a historic start in the most recent edition, held in Birmingham, with the best medal placement in its history.
The country won medals in a variety of sports, including weightlifting, as well as setting records at the African and Commonwealth Games in athletics.
The Nigerian team racked up an unprecedented 12 gold medals with nine silver and 14 bronze, making the outing in Birmingham the most productive in the country’s history.
Nigeria had previously won 11 gold medals in a single edition of the Commonwealth Games in 1994 in Victoria, Canada; 2010 in Delhi, India; and 2014 in Glasgow, Scotland.
Golden Eaglets and Flying Eagles emerge as WAFU Kings
Although Nigeria is a world power when it comes to age-matching competitions, the country gradually lost the accolade with failing to qualify and early exits from recent international tournaments.
However, the downward trend was reversed in 2022, with the new set of teams Golden Eaglets and Flying Eagles being assembled by Nduka Ugbade and Ladan Bosso respectively.
To qualify for the Under-17 and Under-20 Africa Cup of Nations, which serves as a qualifier for the World Cup in those categories, the Eaglets and Flying Eagles did it in style; as they claimed the WAFU B regional titles.
The Under-20 boys conquered it all in Niamey, Niger Republic in May, while the Under-17 boys equally triumphed in Cape Coast, Ghana in June.
Flamingos make history in Mumbai
Similar to Morocco’s Atlas Lions’ achievement at Qatar 2022, Nigeria’s under-17 girls won Africa’s first ever FIFA World Cup bronze medal at the latest Under-17 tournament in India.
After narrowly missing out on reaching the final, the Flamingos made history with a 3-2 penalty shootout victory over Germany following a dramatic 3-3 draw in Mumbai.
Prior to winning bronze in India, Nigeria and indeed Africa had never been past the quarter-finals at any of the FIFA U-17 women’s tournaments.
Nigerian curling makes Olympic inroads
Nigeria is making a foray into winter sports and the exciting journey is already paying off. The Nigerian Curling Federation has already laid the groundwork for the 2024 Winter Youth Olympic Games.
Following their participation in the recently held world junior B curling championships in Finland, the Nigerian team became the first African team to qualify for the 2024 Winter Youth Olympic Games curling event.
The country has qualified for the Mixed and Mixed Doubles events.
Brume jumping to new heights
The ever-reliable long jumper still isn’t resting on her oars.
Brume has secured podium finishes every time he has represented Nigeria in any international meeting and he has held onto that record and bettered it in 2022.
At the World Championships in Oregon, Brume went from being a bronze medalist to a silver medalist.
It’s worth noting that Brume won Nigeria’s last gold medal at the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham and it was that “jump gold” that cemented the start as the best start ever for the Nigerian team.
Brume is just one of three Nigerian athletes to have medaled at the Olympic, world indoor and world (outdoor) championships.
The magic of Delta continues at the National Sports Festival
Delta State hosted and won the 21st Annual National Sports Festival (NSF). Judging by their track record, one would have rightfully bet on Team Delta to win, but they did it impressively by collecting an unprecedented number of medals.
ALSO READ: 2022: Nigeria’s Tobi Amusan named Africa’s best female athlete
Of the 36 states that participated in various games, Team Delta won 320 gold, 200 silver and 128 bronze medals out of 648 medals available.
Ruthless Rivers United broke double records
We could say that winning the Nigerian Professional Football League title is ‘normal’, but the way the Garden City team came out on top is worth mentioning.
The Port-Harcourt club emerged as champions in July, making it their first victory since the official merger of the Dolphins and Sharks in 2016. In clinching the title, they set a record by amassing 77 points in 38 games.
The 10-point gap over runners-up Plateau United is also unprecedented in NPFL history.
For his heroism, Rivers State Governor Nyesom Wike squandered N15 million each on title-winning Rivers United players and officials.
Biggest Super Eagles record win in history
Even though the Super Eagles suffered a huge disappointment in 2022; after losing the ball at the Africa Cup of Nations in Cameroon and failing to qualify for the World Cup in Qatar, they inadvertently set a goalscoring record for the year.
As inconsequential as it may seem, the biggest victory ever recorded by the Super Eagles came in 2022 when José Peseiro led the team to a 10-0 win over São Tomé and Príncipe in a qualifying match for the upcoming AFCON.
Victor Osimhen scored four of the goals, while a brace from Terem Moffi and a goal from Moses Simon, Oghenekaro Etebo, Ademola Lookman and Emmanuel Dennis completed the rout.
Royal Departure for Bayelsa Queens in Morocco
After Rivers Angels’ unimpressive appearance in the first CAF Women’s Champions League, Bayelsa Queens returned for better representation of the country in 2022.
The Prosperity Girls, as they are called, achieved many firsts in the tournament organized in Morocco.
They returned to Yenagoa with the bronze medal and the Fair Play award.
Bayelsa Queens defender Glory Ubong Edet also made the CAF Women’s Champions League Team of the Tournament.
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