Team Nigeria Return To Abuja After Tokyo Olympics

 Ese Brume and Blessing Oborududu won Nigeria's two medals at the Tokyo Olympics.
Ese Brume and Blessing Oborududu won Nigeria’s two medals at the Tokyo Olympics.

 

Nigerian athletes who participated in the Tokyo Olympics arrived at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport in Abuja on Saturday.

The Team Nigeria athletes arrived at the airport at about 1 pm.

Sports Minister Sunday Dare expressed satisfaction with the team’s performance at Tokyo, after placing 69th on the 205-country medal table.

Nigeria clinched two medals at the games, including a bronze in long jump and a silver in wrestling.

Both medals were won by Ese Brume and Blessing Oborududu respectively.

Team Nigeria’s appearance at the Tokyo games was marred by disqualifications, injuries and misfortune.

At least 10 athletes were disqualified for not complying with out-of-competition drug testing requirements.

Star athlete Blessing Okagbare was also suspended after she failed a drug test.

However the duo of Brume and Oborududu was able to put some smile on the faces of many Nigerians.

Tokyo Olympics: Third Gold For Thompson-Herah as Jamaica Wins 4X100m Women Relay

First-placed (from L) Jamaica's teammates Shericka Jackson, Briana Williams, Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce and Elaine Thompson-Herah celebrate after wining the women's 4x100m relay final during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at the Olympic Stadium in Tokyo on August 6, 2021. Andrej ISAKOVIC / AFP
First-placed (from L) Jamaica’s teammates Shericka Jackson, Briana Williams, Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce and Elaine Thompson-Herah celebrate after wining the women’s 4x100m relay final during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at the Olympic Stadium in Tokyo on August 6, 2021. Andrej ISAKOVIC / AFP

 

Double sprint champion Elaine Thompson-Herah collected a third gold of the Tokyo Olympics when she helped Jamaica to win the 4x100m relay on Friday, while British cyclist Laura Kenny made history with the fifth gold of her career.

The all-conquering US women’s basketball team outclassed Serbia to reach their seventh consecutive Olympic final and American sprint great Allyson Felix became the most decorated woman track and field athlete in the history of the Games.

After blazing to an individual sprint double earlier in the Games, Thompson-Herah thundered down the back straight in the sprint relay to pass the baton to Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce whose fast bend gave Shericka Jackson a lead that she held onto, crossing the line in a national record of 41.02sec.

The US quartet were second, reversing the positions from Rio 2016, and Britain took the bronze medal.

Italy, with surprise 100m winner Marcell Lamont Jacobs in their ranks, won the men’s sprint relay for the first time in their history.

Felix produced a gutsy run to land the bronze medal in the 400m behind runaway winner Shaunae Miller-Uibo of the Bahamas, who retained her title from Rio with a brilliant tactical race.

At the age of 35, Felix collected the tenth medal of an Olympic career that began in Athens in 2004.

“This one is very different and very special,” Felix said.

Dutch distance runner Sifan Hassan, already the 5,000m champion, saw her hopes of an audacious treble vanish when she was beaten into third by defending champion Faith Kipyegon of Kenya in the women’s 1500m. Laura Muir got a gutsy silver medal for Britain.

Kenny joins the greats

In the Izu Velodrome, Kenny became the first British woman to win five Olympic golds, joining fellow cyclist Bradley Wiggins and rower Steve Redgrave on the all-time list.

After powering to victory alongside Katie Archibald in the first women’s madison at a Games, an emotional Kenny — one half of Britain’s golden cycling couple with husband Jason — said she had considered quitting during her pregnancy with son Albie, who was born in 2017.

“When I fell pregnant, there was a moment two months into the pregnancy where I woke up and said to Jason, ‘I can’t do this, I’m not going to be able to carry on (with cycling), there’s just no way’. And here we are,” she said.

Gold medallist Britain's Katie Archibald (L) and Britain's Laura Kenny celebrates on podium after the women's track cycling madison during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at Izu Velodrome in Izu, Japan, on August 6, 2021. Greg Baker / AFP
Gold medallist Britain’s Katie Archibald (L) and Britain’s Laura Kenny celebrates on podium after the women’s track cycling madison during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at Izu Velodrome in Izu, Japan, on August 6, 2021. Greg Baker / AFP

 

Dutch riders Harrie Lavreysen and Jeffrey Hoogland had claimed the team sprint gold as a duo earlier in the Games, but Lavreysen won their individual duel in the men’s sprint.

With two days of action left, China top the medals table with 36 golds, five ahead of the United States. Host nation Japan are third on 24 while Britain moved to 18 in fourth.

The US will be banking on a gold in Sunday’s women’s basketball final after double-doubles from Breanna Stewart and Brittney Griner led the six-time defending champions to a 79-59 win against Serbia. They will meet Japan in the final after the host nation defeated France 87-71.

Canada won the women’s football crown with a nailbiting 3-2 penalty shootout win over Australia in Yokohama, a match moved from its initial 11:00am kickoff because of the heat.

Slovenian spiderwoman Janja Garnbret gave a climbing masterclass to win the inaugural women’s Olympic gold medal.

Cuban boxer Julio la Cruz, who was shot during a robbery just a few years ago, won his second Olympic gold with victory in the heavyweight boxing final.

The 31-year-old defeated Russia’s Muslim Gadzhimagomedov on unanimous points to add the Tokyo title to his Rio 2016 light-heavyweight crown.

World number one Nelly Korda of the United States holds a three-stroke lead over India’s Aditi Ashok going into Saturday’s final round of the women’s golf tournament.

Away from the action, two Belarusian coaches have been kicked out of the Games over an alleged attempt to force a sprinter to fly home.

The International Olympic Committee said it had removed the accreditations of Artur Shimak and Yury Maisevich.

The body said this week that it was investigating the pair over their role in the case of Krystsina Tsimanouskaya, who sought protection at a Tokyo airport to avoid being put on a plane home.

 

AFP

Tokyo Olympics: Ese Brume Wins Nigeria’s First Medal

Nigeria's Ese Brume reacts as she competes in the women's long jump final during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at the Olympic Stadium in Tokyo on August 3, 2021. Javier SORIANO / AFP
Nigeria’s Ese Brume reacts as she competes in the women’s long jump final during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at the Olympic Stadium in Tokyo on August 3, 2021. Javier SORIANO / AFP

 

Long jumper Ese Brume has won Nigeria’s first medal at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

Brume, 25, claimed the bronze medal in the women’s long jump at the Olympic Stadium in Tokyo on Tuesday.

She achieved the feat with a 6.97m jump, two days after she qualified for the finals with a jump of 6.76m.

Germany’s Malaika Mihambo beat Brume to the gold medal with a 7.00m jump while Brittney Reese of the United States won the silver medal.

Nigeria's Ese Brume competes in the women's long jump final during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at the Olympic Stadium in Tokyo on August 3, 2021. Andrej ISAKOVIC / AFP

Brume’s win adds to positive news for Nigeria at the Olympics after a run of negative news of defeats and the disqualification of some of the country’s athletes.

On Monday, Blessing Oborududu beat Mongolia’s Battsetseg Soronzonbold to reach the final of the women’s freestyle 68kg wrestling. The win guaranteed Nigeria a medal at the Olympics.

Brume’s win gives Nigerians more reasons to cheer.

READ ALSO: I Never Settled For Less, Says Ese Brume After Winning Long Jump Bronze In Tokyo

‘Super happy’

In her reaction during an interview with journalists, the bronze medalist said, “I’m just excited, I’m grateful. I’m super happy that I was able to make it to the top three.

“I really want to thank God. I can’t contain my joy; it doesn’t matter the medal; I’m just super happy I made top three.”

Nigeria's Ese Brume competes in the women's long jump qualification during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at the Olympic Stadium in Tokyo on August 1, 2021. Andrej ISAKOVIC / AFP

 

When asked what the medal means to her, she said: “This medal means that God is alive, Jesus is alive. It has been a great season even though I got injured in April, but I never settled for less.

“I never looked at the situation but I kept on pushing and my coach kept on pushing and told me ‘Ese you can do it’. Thank God I’m here today.”

 

Nigeria's Ese Brume competes in the women's long jump final during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at the Olympic Stadium in Tokyo on August 3, 2021. Javier SORIANO / AFP

First-plcaed Germany's Malaika Mihambo (L) celebrates with third-placed Nigeria's Ese Brume after competing in the women's long jump final during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at the Olympic Stadium in Tokyo on August 3, 2021. Andrej ISAKOVIC / AFP
First-placed Germany’s Malaika Mihambo (L) celebrates with third-placed Nigeria’s Ese Brume after competing in the women’s long jump final during Andrej ISAKOVIC / AFP

Nigeria's Ese Brume reacts as she competes in the women's long jump final during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at the Olympic Stadium in Tokyo on August 3, 2021. Javier SORIANO / AFP

Olympic Flame Arrives Tokyo After Spectators Ban

Former Japanese professional tennis player Shuzo Matsuoka (L) receives the Olympics flame to his Olympic torch during the lighting ceremony of the Olympic flame at Machida Shibahiro, on the first day of the torch relay in the city of Machida in western Tokyo on July 9, 2021.
Philip FONG / AFP

 

The Olympic flame arrived in Tokyo on Friday with just two weeks until the Games open, as athletes and fans mourned a “heartbreaking” decision to bar spectators from almost all venues over the virus.

In a taste of what is to come for thousands of athletes who will compete at the pandemic-postponed Games, the public was kept away from the arrival of the flame and a welcoming ceremony was attended only by the media and officials.

As the final countdown to the July 23 opening ceremony begins, the mood is far from the usual festive Olympic spirit.

Tokyo will be under a virus state of emergency from Sunday until August 22, putting a further dampener on an already unusual Olympics.

The measures, which mostly limit alcohol sales, restaurant opening hours, and crowd sizes, come as infections rise in the capital and with authorities concerned about the spread of the Delta variant.

Given the decision, organisers said Thursday they would bar spectators from venues in Tokyo and three surrounding areas, where most competition will happen. A handful of events will be held elsewhere in the country with some fans in attendance.

The move disappointed fans and athletes alike, with Australian tennis star Nick Kyrgios saying it tipped the scale as he wavered on whether to compete.

“The thought of playing in front of empty stadiums just doesn’t sit right with me. It never has,” he said on social media, announcing his withdrawal.

But others said they were grateful for the chance to take part, with US swimmer Katie Ledecky saying the Games would still be “a really beautiful thing”.

In Tokyo, Governor Yuriko Koike received the Olympic flame in a lantern at a ceremony in an empty stadium.

The nationwide torch relay was supposed to stoke excitement about the Games, but almost half the legs have been taken off public roads or otherwise altered because of virus concerns.

Despite the disruptions, Koike said the flame’s passage offered “hope” that she said torchbearers would “carry into the Olympic stadium”.

When the cauldron is lit on July 23, only dignitaries and officials will be in the stands at the 68,000-capacity National Stadium in central Tokyo.

‘No one is happy’

On Thursday night, Koike told reporters she felt “heartbreaking grief” about the decision to bar fans, but organisers said they had no choice given the rise in infections and new emergency measures.

Japan has so far recorded around 14,900 virus deaths, despite avoiding harsh lockdowns, and organisers had hoped to have up to 10,000 local fans in venues after being forced to bar overseas spectators.

The spread of the more contagious Delta variant, paired with a comparatively low vaccination rate — just 16 percent of the population is fully vaccinated — put paid to those plans.

The financial impact of the decision is comparatively small, with projected revenues for all Olympic and Paralympic tickets accounting for just around $800 million compared to an approximately $15-billion Tokyo 2020 budget.

A decision on Paralympic spectators will be taken after the Olympics end.

The move left a sour taste for Natsuko Kamioka, who had tickets to take her son to the men’s volleyball quarter-finals.

“They’ve avoided cancelling the Games but they haven’t been left with a good outcome. No one is happy,” she told AFP.

Olympic “superfan” Kyoko Ishikawa, who has attended every Summer Games in the past three decades, was more sanguine.

“It’s not getting me down,” said Ishikawa, who has become a familiar face at Olympic venues over the years in her traditional Japanese outfit and ‘hachimaki’ headband.

“Now, what I have to do is ask how I can still create an opportunity to connect people around the world through the Olympic Games.”

And French decathlete Kevin Mayer, who won silver in Rio 2016, said the roar of crowds was only one aspect of competition.

“They are taking away part of the joy of sport,” he told a press conference. “But we should not forget why we play sports.”

“I’m being given the opportunity to express myself in a way not given to everyone, in the biggest competition that exists.”

-AFP