The Rio 2016 Olympic Games is a week old, but it is already throwing up stars in different disciplines.
We take a look at some of the emerging stars here. Enjoy it.
Nigeria’s Dream Team
Prior to the Rio 2016 Olympics, the Nigerian Olympic football team was dogged by controversies poor over camping arrangements, lack of allowance and poor flight arrangement which led the team arriving the games few hours before her opening game against Japan.
The Sports Minister, Solomon Dalong worsened the team’s plight he initially denied knowing their whereabout while they were camping in the USA.
The team was allegedly thrown out of their hotel with reports indicating that the players slept outside the corridors of the hotel. it took the intervention of an American airline before the team was eventually flown to Brazil after they were stranded for days.
After embarrassing delays, Nigeria’s Dream Team VI arrived Manaus, Brazil six hours before the opener against Japan. Following the legion of challenges faced by the team, their first game almost ended in a nightmare.
Previous meetings between Japan and Nigeria at Atlanta ’96 and the Beijing Olympics in 2008 ended in Nigeria’s favour. Due to their late arrival to Brazil for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, Nigeria’s U-23 side record was almost dented as they struggled past Japan 5-4 in their first Group B game, capped it up with a second win over Sweden to guarantee a quarter final berth .
Though he is out of the ongoing Olympics in Rio, Segun Toriola still got applauded for his ground-breaking appearance- a seven time feat-at the quadrennial games. He had represented Nigeria at six Summer Olympics beginning at Barcelona ‘92 before making the seventh appearance in Rio.
His biggest achievement at the Olympics was getting to the Men’s Singles Round of 16 at the Beijing 2008 Olympics, beating amongst others former world number 1 Jean-Michel Saive as well as David Zhuang. His Round of 32 match-up with Jean-Michel Saive was seen by many as one of the highlights of the Men’s Singles Tournament. He narrowly lost 4-3 to heavily favoured Oh Sang-Eun in the Round of 16.
His fifth Olympic appearance in 2008 made him the first Nigerian man to appear at five Olympics.
Nigeria’s Aruna Quadri set another continental record after the 2014 ITTF Star Player became the first African to play in the quarterfinal of the men’s singles at Rio 2016 Olympic Games.
On Monday 8th August, Quadri, became the first player from the continent to reach the same round at an Olympic Games. Sensationally, just one day short of his 28th birthday, he beat Timo Boll, the former World no.1 and the no.10 seed in Rio de Janeiro,
Incredibly, Quadri withstood a brave recovery from the German after winning the first three games to secure a six games success (12-10, 12-10, 11-5, 3-11, 5-11, 11-5).
“It’s a miracle; this is amazing, I don’t know what to say, my fans made the victory possible”, said a dazed Quadri .
“Thank you to all the Brazilian spectators for their support; they gave me so much energy; this feels so good, it is a dream come true that I am in the quarter-finals.” Sadly, the dream ended with a loss to his Chinese opponent. Nonetheless he has made his mark as one of the legends of the game.
Cheirika Ukogu created history at the Olympics this year, being the first rower to represent Nigeria at the Olympic Games. Originally from Philadelphia with her training roots at the Schuylkill river, she says It is her ultimate goal to be the 1st Nigerian to row at the Olympic Games. Heading into Rio, it’s a really wonderful opportunity for Nigeria. This is the first time we’ve had an athlete at the Olympics in the sport of Rowing.”
A graduate of Stanford University and a medical school hopeful, Coco is an inspiration for woman in Nigeria and around the world. Coco will be participating at the 2016 Olympics in the single sculling event, and will go down in history as Team Nigeria’s first ever Olympic rower.
She currently trains at the Vesper Boathouse at Schuylkill, Philadelphia, prepping for her historic moment at Rio and beyond.
Ukogu worked hard to reach the semi-finals stage but her 18th place overall ranking in a field of 24 was not enough to see her through to the medals zone. Her dreams of winning an Olympic medal ended after the US-based Nigerian came fifth in the quarter-finals of the boat rowing event at the Rio 2016.
23-year-old Ukogu, who put her medical school on hold to represent Nigeria in Rio came 5th in her group in the quarterfinals and qualified for the semi-finals C/D as against A/B which are the medal contention rounds.
The C/D rounds are just for ranking today and she’ll be competing just for ranking with three other quarter finalists.
Dalung praised the 24-year old for her never -say -die spirit after finishing fifth in Quarterfinal 3.