There is a popular adage that says “What a man can do, a woman can do better” and this is apt in the case of Team Nigeria’s female athletes who have continued to make the nation proud while the male athletes appear to be struggling to re-enact their glory days.
As if the men are in deep slumber, the female athletes are the ones running the show in continental and global competitions. From the 2022 Africa Women’s Cup of Nations in Morocco, to the World Athletics Championship in Oregon, USA and the ongoing Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, Nigeria’s sports is being propelled by female athletes.
Trust Sports, therefore, takes a look at some of these outstanding female athletes who are now enjoying rave reviews ahead of their male compatriots who are gradually becoming a shadow of themselves.
This undisputable queen of African football has over the time proved that she is the best female footballer on the continent after winning her 5th title in a row during the 2022 CAF Awards in Morocco. As it stands now, she is the only female football player on the continent who has won the title a record five times. She had won the other four titles in 2014, 2016, 2017, and 2019. With her most recent victory, Oshoala has surpassed compatriot Perpetua Nkwocha, who played for the Super Falcons from 1999 to 2015 and won the CAF award for best female player four times (2004, 2005, 2010, 2011).
Meanwhile, Kanu Nwankwo who has long retired is the only Nigerian footballer that has won the award twice in the male category.
The blue-haired Atletico Madrid forward was a shining star in the failed conquest of the Super Falcons during the Africa Women’s Cup of Nations in Morocco.
Although he managed 3 goals in fewer matches, Ajibade finished as WAFCON 2022 joint top-scorer of the tournament and a place in the Championship’s best eleven players.
The goal by the Sports Psychology graduate from Barca Innovation Hub against Cameroon gave the Super Falcons a ticket to the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup in New Zealand and Australia next year.
Patience Ndidi Madu and Mimisen Iyorhe Calvin-Onwuka
These two outstanding women FIFA referees are among the best on the continent. They were an integral part of the group that officiated the just concluded AWCON in Morocco. Elite Assistant referee Mimisen who was among those who officiated the final match between Morocco and South Africa is listed by FIFA for the 2022 U-20 Women’s World Cup in Costa Rica.
The pride of the nation who is currently the poster girl of Nigerian sports had broken the 100m hurdles’ world record twice in just over an hour at the just concluded World Athletics Championship in Oregon.
Tobi won the gold by running a stunning 12:12 seconds in the semi-final to smash America Keni Harrison’s 12:20 seconds record set 6 years ago, before powering over the line at Hayward Field in 12.06sec in the final.
She made history as the first Nigerian athlete to win gold at the World Athletics Championship.
The Ijebu Ode born athlete has been in the form of her life in recent times breaking the African record three times in the space of 10 months.
This is another female athlete who ever since she burst into the scene has been consistent and it has always paid off.
Last month, the Delta state born athlete produced her biggest jump of the year in Oregon, USA to become the first Nigerian athlete to win medals at two World Athletics Championships.
She won the silver medal in Oregon, an upgrade to the bronze she won in Doha in 2019. In fact, she won the only medal for Team Nigeria in Doha.
The Olympic bronze medallist leaped 7.02m to finish behind Germany’s Olympic champion Malaika Mihambo, who leaped 7.12m, and Brazil’s Leticia Oro Melo jumped 6.89m to take bronze.
She became the first medalist for Team Nigeria at the ongoing Commonwealth Games after she won in the women’s 55kg division to earn gold while setting a new Games record. Olarinoye broke the previous Games record in the division by snatching 92 kg and clean and jerking 111 kg for a total of 203 kg.
Rafiatu Folashade Lawal
She is another weightlifter who won Nigeria’s second gold medal in the 59k weightlifting competition in Birmingham. In addition, she set three Commonwealth Games records in the women’s 59 kg final by snatching 90 kg, clean and jerking 116 kg, and overall 206 kg.
By winning the bronze medal in the women’s 64 kg weightlifting event, Islamiyat Yusuf won Nigeria’s fourth medal at the 2022 Commonwealth Games. She did this by snatching 93 kg and clean and jerking 119 kg.
The 28-year-old African champion won with a season’s-best throw of 61.70 metres, edging out England’s Jade Lall to become only the second African woman to win Commonwealth discus gold after South Africa’s Elizna Naude in Melbourne in 2006.
Onyekwere, an engineer by profession, who competed in her first Commonwealth Games, was unable to advance to the final of the recent World Championships in Eugene but became the first Nigerian woman to win a gold medal in the discus at the Commonwealth Games.
She is another bright light who finished on the podium with a Bronze medal in the same event with Chioma. Her victory on Tuesday, August 2 earned Nigeria her fourth bronze medal in Birmingham. The California-based athlete won the bronze medal with a throw of 56.99m in her fifth attempt.
She won silver in the 76kg women’s weightlifting event. Taiwo finished with a combined lift of 216kg.
The 20 year old weightlifter came second behind Maya Laylor of Canada and set a junior commonwealth games record with her lift in the 76kg category. Taiwo also lifted 96kg in the snatch and 120kg in clean & jerk.
Mary Taiwo Osijo
Osijo lifted a combined total of 225 kg to win the bronze medal in the women’s 87 kg weightlifting competition.
The 25-year-old athlete, who lifted every effort she made in all categories, had a faultless series and earned the bronze medal.
Meanwhile, Team Nigeria’s duo of Rosemary Chukwuma and Grace Nwokocha got to the final of the 100m women’s event but ended on fourth and fifth position respectively but Godson Brume, Favour Ashe and Raymond Ekevwo all failed to qualify for the male 100m event.
Interestingly, female weightlifters were responsible for seven out of the eight medals won by Team Nigeria in Birmingham as at the time of press. And with the competition coming to an end on Monday, expectations are high that the gender erroneously perceived as weak would win more medals as Team Nigeria strives to beat the 2014 record of 11 gold, 11 silver and 14 bronze medals in Glasgow.