African athletes who made history at GC2018

The Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games (GC2018) ended yesterday, and for the first time in history, a major multi-sports games had an equal number of men and women’s medal events. Seven new women’s events and categories were added to the programme, putting them at par with men.

The games featured more than 6,600 athletes and team officials from 71 Commonwealth nations and territories. They gathered at the Gold Coast in Australia for the largest sporting event in this decade, featuring the largest integrated sports program in Commonwealth Games history. It comprised 18 sports and seven para-sports.

During the games, Africans from various countries broke records and recorded a series of firsts.

Malawi

The Malawi Queens’ victory was their first success against two-time Commonwealth champion New Zealand in 10 attempts. Trailing by seven goals at halftime, Malawi set up their famous victory in netball with a 17-9 third quarter.

“We have beaten the untouchables,” said coach Whyte Mulilima. Malawi registered the nation’s first ever win against New Zealand and sparked wild celebrations after the 57-53 upset.

Malawi athletes celebrate winning the Netball match against New Zealand

Botswana

Botswana toasted the 400m double as Amantle Montsho and Isaac Makwala both dominated the field. Just 24 hours after her compatriot Makwala cruised to victory in the men’s 400m, Montsho, the 2011 world champion, produced her quickest time in five years to register 50.15s

It was also the first time in Commonwealth Games history the 400m men’s and women’s events have been won by athletes from the same country.

Amantle Montsho of Botswana celebrates as she wins gold in the Womens 400 metres final

South Africa

World champion Luvo Manyonga from South Africa repelled the fierce challenge of Australia’s Henry Frayne to take the country’s first Commonwealth Games long jump gold since 1950. Manyonga, the former crystal meth addict who last year produced the longest jump in the world for eight years, dislodged Frayne from top spot in round four with 8.35m. The gold medallist then soared out to his longest leap of the competition in round six with a Games record 8.41m.

Luvo Manyonga of South Africa competes in the Mens long jump final during athletics on day seven of the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games at Carrara Stadium. Courtesy: GC2018

South Africa’s Caster Semenya smashed the 800m Games record to become only the third woman in Commonwealth Games history to complete the 800 and 1500m double. The world and Olympic 800m champion controlled the race with ease, passing 400m in 58.66 before accelerating clear of the field in the final 200m to lower the Games record to 1:56.68.

Caster Semenya

Nigeria

Oluwatobiloba Amusan made history as the first Nigerian to win gold in the 100m Hurdles at the Commonwealth Games. The 20-year-old track star sprinted to victory in just 12.68 seconds, coming out ahead of Jamaica’s Danielle Williams and Yanique Thompson who earned the silver and bronze respectively.

Oluwatobiloba Amusan celebrates after her win.

Having won silver and two bronze medals on Thursday in wrestling, Glasgow 2014 gold medallist Odunayo Adekuoroye became the first wrestler to win gold for Nigeria at the Games after she defeated India’s Pooja Dhanda 7-5 in the final of the 57kg category of the women’s freestyle. She becomes the first Nigerian wrestler to win two Commonwealth Games gold medals.

Odunayo Adekuoroye wrestles India’s Pooja Dhanda. Courtesy: GC2018

Nigerian para powerlifter, Esther Oyema, beat her previous record of 126kg in women’s lightweight at the last Commonwealth Games in Glasgow by lifting an incredible 141.6kg. While this is her third consecutive Commonwealth title, it’s not the first time the Paralympian is breaking her own record in powerlifting. In 2015, she won a gold medal at the All-Africa Games by lifting 133kg and beating her previous record of 126kg.

Nigeria has dominated para-powerlifting since it was introduced in the games in 2010. So, it’s no surprise Oyema’s main competitor was Lucy Ejike who won silver with a lift of 134.1kg.

Esther Oyema just after breaking yet another record

As the games came to a close, South Africa was the highest placed African team as they finished in the sixth position overall with 13 gold, 11 silver, 13 bronze medals having participated in a more diverse range of games including cycling road, lawn bowls, cycling mountain bike, and triathlon.

Nigeria finished in the ninth position with nine gold, nine silver and six bronze medals, with a total of 24 medals won – a step down for Nigeria who finished eighth with 36 medals at the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games.

Kenya were 14th with four gold, seven silver, six bronze, Uganda 15th with three gold, one silver, two bronze, Botswana finished 16th with three gold, one silver, one bronze, and Namibia with two gold medals ended up in the 19th position.

Cameroon who had one silver and two bronze finished in the 32nd position, Mauritius were in joint-34th position with one silver while Ghana and Seychelles who only won one bronze, were joint-39th in the medal table

Courtesy: GC2018

The Games hosts, Australia, were the overall winners at this year’s games after amassing 80 gold, 59 silver, 59 bronze to bring their medals total to 198.

England who were champions at the 2014 edition, came second with 45 gold, 45 silver, 46 bronze, while India cleared the third spot with 26 gold, 20 silver, 20 bronze making 66 medals.

The next edition of the Commonwealth Games in 2022 will be hosted in Birmingham, England, from July 27 to August 7.