Sports in Nigeria – CometoNigeria
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Sports in Nigeria

Nigeria has made its mark in global sports competition. Its national soccer team, the Super Eagles, is adjudged the best in Africa and one of the best ten in the world. Nigeria won the first World Cup in the under-16 category in China in 1985 and came second in the same category two years later in Canada.

Its Under-20 soccer team won the bronze medal in the Junior World Cup competition in the Soviet Union in 1985 and the silver medal in Saudi Arabia in 1989. In the 1994 World Cup competition, Nigeria led its group to qualify for the second round.

In professional boxing, Nigeria has produced three world champions (Hogan “Kid” Bassey (featherweight, 1957-1959); Dick Tiger, (middleweight, 1962-1963) and Massachusetts resident, Bash Ali (cruiserweight, 1987). Nigeria’s athletes have also won Olympic medals in long jump, 400 x 4 relay and several other track and field events.

Dozens of Nigerians are today professional athletes in Europe and America. A Nigerian based in the US, Hakeem Olajuwon, is today roundly adjudged the best basketballer in the world.

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Sports History

Nigerian sports, though always exercised, was noted first in the 1950s. Nigeria had it’s first appearance in the Helsinki Olympic Games in 1952, and it’s first victory in 1954, when Emmanuel Ifeanjuna won a gold medal in the high jump at the Commonwealth games in Cardiff.

In 1962, the Nationals Sports Council was set up, and in 1971, the National Sports Commission, and they had the following responsibilities (stated exactly as is):

* To coordinate and integrate efforts to raise the standard of performance in sports in Nigeria.

* To encourage the development, organization and participation of sports in Nigeria.

* To make any arrangements on behalf of the States’ Sports Councils for Competitions, technical assistance, recruitment of coaches and for any other matters as the Commission sees fit.

* To promote physical fitness and general well-being of all persons in Nigeria

In terms of football/soccer, the Nigerian Football Federation was created in 1945. It was the first year that a competition was organized bringing together clubs from Lagos, Port Harcourt and Calabar. The championship was also renamed the Challenge Cup replacing the Governor’s Cup as it had been known under their British colonizers. It was only several years later that the Challenge Cup became a national trophy when other top clubs from different provinces were invited to play. However, the clubs had to wait till 1990 for the professional league to be introduced.

Nigeria emerged on the international football/soccer scene in 1960 when it first entered the World Cup, but failed to qualify for the finals. It eventually qualified for the 1970 World Cup in Mexico. The Nigerian National League began in 1972 when five teams entered the league. This grew to 12 teams by 1978. The victories Nigeria has won are stated in the records section below. Locally within Nigeria, there are many sporting clubs that one can join.

Sports Played
The following sports are playe in Nigeria (listed alphabetically):
Athletics (track and field), Badminton, Basketball, Baseball, Boxing, Chess, Cricket, Cycling, Football (most popular sport in Nigeria), Gymnastics, Golf, Handball, Hockey, Judo, Lawn Tennis, Rowing, Shooting, Squash rackets, Swimming, Table Tennis / Ping-Pong, Taekwondo, Volleyball, Weight-lifting and Wrestling

In Olympics, Nigeria usually  participates in soccer, judo, wrestling, boxing, weightlifting, tennis, long jump, triple jump, table-tennis and the sprints.

Here are the records we been able to obtain on Nigeria’s involvement in sports (outside of Nigeria of course), sorted chronologically.

Year   Records
  1954 * Emmanuel Ifeanjuna won a gold medal in the high jump at the Commonwealth Games in Cardiff.
  1962 * 1st All African Games: Karimu Young won a gold medal in the 51kg class in Cairo
  1964 * Nojim Maiyegun won a bronze medal in the 71kg class in the Olympics in Tokyo
1966 * A. Andeh, Lightweight Commonwealth Games, Boxing
* Eddie Ndukwu, Bantamweight, Commonwealth Games, Boxing
* Also in boxing, Fatai Ayinla each won a gold medal in Lagos
  1968 * In boxing, Lako won a gold medal in the 54kg class.
  1970 * A. Adeyemi,  Lightweight, Commonwealth Games, Boxing
* Fatai Ayinla, 
 Light-heavy weight, Commonwealth Games, Boxing
  1972 * Isaac Ikhouria won a bronze medal in the 81kg class in the Olympics in Munich
  1973 * In boxing, Obisia Nwakpa, Isaac Ikhouria and Fatai Ayinla won gold medals each in boxing in Lagos
  1974 * Obisia Nwakpa,  Lightweight, Commonwealth Games, Boxing
* Eddie Ndukwu, 
 Featherweight, Commonwealth Games, Boxing
* In boxing, Eddie Ndukwu and Isaac Ikhouria won gold medals each in Kampala
* In boxing, Fatai Ayinla won a bronze medal in the +91kg at the 1st World Championship in Havana, Cuba.
  1976 * Shooting Stars won the tournament for the CAF nations
  1977 * Enugu Rangers won the tournament for the CAF nations
  1978 * Abdulkarim Haruna (60kg) & Ishiaku Adamu (81kg) won gold medal each in Algiers
* Davidson Andeh (60kg) won a gold medal at the World Championship, Belgrade
  1980 * African Cup of Nations Championship
  1982 * J. Orewa,  Bantamweight, Commonwealth Games, Boxing
* P. Konyegwachie, Featherweight, Commonwealth Games, Boxing
* Roland Omoruyi (67kg) won a bronze medal at the World Championship, Munich.
* Nigeria won the 4 x 100 meter relay final in the Commonwealth Games.
  1984 * Nigeria won four silver medals in the Olympics through Featherweight boxer Peter Konyegwachie in Los Angeles
  1985 * Champion – World Championship for U-16/U-17 Teams
* 3rd place Palmares Youth’s World Cup (sub 20)
  1989 * 2nd place Palmares Youth’s World Cup (sub 20)
  1990 * David Defiagbon, Welterweight, Commonwealth Games, Boxing (gold medal)
* Sabo Mohammed, 
Bantamweight, Commonwealth Games, Boxing (gold medal)
* Also in boxing, Kevin Onwuka won a bronze medal in Auckland, New Zealand.
* Moses James won a bronze medal in the 63.5kg class in Sydney
  1991 * In boxing, Moses James (63.5kg), Jacklord Jacobs (81kg), David Izonritei (91kg) and Richard Igbineghu (+91kg) won gold medals each including a silver medal by Tajudeen Sabitu (67kg) and a bronze medal by David Defiagbon (71kg) in Cairo
* Nigeria finished 10th in the Women World cup.
  1992 * Nigeria won the 4×100 men’s relay in Barcelona.
* Nigeria won two silver medals in boxing in the Olympics through David Izonritei (91 kg) and Richard Igbineghu (+91kg)  in Barcelona
  1993 * Champion –  World Championship for U-16/U-17 Teams in Japan
* Jacklord Jacobs won a silver medal in the 81 kg class in Tempere, Finland
1994 * 1st World Cup appearance
* Champion – African Cup of Nations
* In boxing, Duncan Dokiwari won a gold medal in the +91kg class, Rasmus Ojemaye (75kg) and Eromosele Albert (67kg) won silver medals each in Victoria Canada
  1995 * Julius Berger won the Cup Winners’Cup
* In boxing, Duncan Dokiwari (+91kg) won a gold medal, Kehinde Aweda (54kg) won a silver medal, Daniel Attah (57kg) and Friday Ahunanya (91kg) won a bronze medal each in Harare
* Nigeria finished 11th in the Women’s World cup.
  1996 * Nigeria won the Olympic Gold in Atlanta USA (football)
* In boxing, Duncan Dokiwari (+91kg) won a bronze medal in Atlanta
  1998 * 2nd World Cup appearance (made it to the 1/8 Finals)
* Nigeria won the 11th African Athletics Championship in Dakar ( 23 medals)
* Nigeria finished 1st at the 1998 African Women’s Soccer Championship
  1999 * In boxing, Segun Ajose won a gold medal, Jegbefu Albert and Eromosele Albert won silver medals each in South Africa
  2000 * 2000 Olympic
* Africa Cup of Nations
  2002 * Japan/Korea 2002 FIFA World Cup
* Africa Cup of Nations
2004 * Africa Cup of Nations
2006 * Africa Cup of Nations
2008 * Africa Cup of Nations
* Beijing Olympics – won bronze medal in football
2010 * Africa Cup of Nations
* FIFA World Cup