The sports sector in 2018 records mixed blessings with Nigerian athletes winning and losing some games within and outside the country
By Benprince Ezeh
Sports lovers in Nigeria will see 2018 as a year of mixed blessings as they tasted the joy of victory and the bitter pills of defeat from the performance of the country’s games men and women.
The year began with the Team Nigeria going for the Commonwealth games in Gold Coast, Australia from April 4 to 15. Nigerian athletes won a total of 24 medals, including nine gold, nine Silver and six bronze. This is twelve medals less than what they achieved four years ago in Glasgow.
In May, Zinedane Zidane and his real Madrid team made history by becoming the first football club not only to have won it twice but thrice in a role after defeating Liverpool football club 3-1 at the NSC Olimpiyskiy Stadium, Kiev, Russia.
By June 10, the world assembled in Russia for the most coveted football competition ever “The World Cup”.
The world stood still when France defeated Croatia 4-2 to win it again after 20 years. The then captain of France became the winning coach. Luka Modric, the Croatian captain won the player of the tournament and eventually went on to break a 10-year domination by Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi by winning the FIFA Player of the year and as well as The Ballon D’Or.
Nineteen-year Kylian Mbappe won the young player of the tournament. Golden boot went to England’s Harry Kane for his six goals in the tournament. The female player of the year went to Marta of Brazil and the Ballon D’Or went to Norwegian Ada Hegerberg.
Super Falcons on the other hand won the AWCON in December and qualified for the women’s world cup in France in June 2019. .
The Amputee Football Team known as the ‘Special Eagles’ eventually participated for the first time in a world cup after qualifying but missed the last three editions of the tournament in 2010, 2012 and 2014 due to a lack of money. This time, the masses, Super Eagles players, NFF president and Atiku Abubakar helped in funding the team.
On the other hand, the League Managers Committee, LMC, agreed to end the Nigerian Professional Football League, NPFL, after game week 24 in August.
The Nigeria female basketball team D’ Tigress, led by Evelyn Akhator who won the Nigerian Sportswoman of the year made history by emerging as the first African side to have won three matches in a row at the FIBA Women’s World Cup in Spain in September and booked a place in the quarter-final after defeating Turkey, Argentina and Greece, but later got eliminated by the eventual champions USA.
Also, in 2018, Lebron James, an American Basketball player became the highest paid NBA player after leaving Cleveland Cavaliers for LA Lakers. His new $154 million deal with the LA Lakers, will see him earn $154,000,000 for four seasons, which equates to $38,500,000 per season, $498,512 per game, $117,378 per quarter, $9,781 per minute and $163 per second. What a man.
Aruna Quadri, Nigeria table tennis star, who won the Nigerian Sportsman of the year, for the first time in five attempts emerged winner of the 2018 Seamaster International Table Tennis Federation, ITTF, Challenge Nigeria Open after defeating France’s Antoine Hachard in the men’s singles final at the Molade Okoya-Thomas Hall at the Teslim Balogun Stadium, Lagos, in August. With the victory, Quadri becomes the first Nigeria to win this title.
He lost the first game 13-11 but bounced back to tie the game 11-3 in the second set. He collected $200 for fairplay despite collecting a $5,000 prize money for the competition he won. Aruna said after winning the game: “What matters is that a Nigerian finally wins the tournament. The cup belongs to all Nigerian players who supported me. Segun Toriola called earlier before the tournament to encourage as well as give me some tips before the match”.
After six years of not taken place, the year finally rounded up with the Federal capital territory, FCT, Abuja, hosting the National Sports Festival, NSF. All 36 states including the FCT participated with the exception of Ebonyi state, which opted out for financial reasons.
– Jan. 1, 2019 @ 00:59 GMT |