It could be recalled that in the 70s and 80s, Nigerian Army athletes were shining lights in virtually all local, African and international sporting events around the world.
In a statement by the Nigerian Army Operations Media Coordinator, Colonel Aminu Iliyasu, this was indeed the case as Nigerian Army athletes were known to have led the medal tables in events and championships such as Field and Track events, Judo, Kickboxing, Taekwondo, Marathon, basketball, volleyball, etcetera.
In various commendable feats that indeed herald the full return of those good old days of Nigerian Army’s sporting glory, within the past one week, Nigerian Army athletes took part in at least three different local and international sporting tournaments and won excellent laurels in all of them.
It is gratifying to report that a Nigerian Army female athlete, Lance Corporal Hannah Reuben was among the athletes that represented Nigeria at the just concluded African Wrestling Championships in Algiers, Algeria between 4 – 8 February 2020.
Lance Corporal Hannah Reuben, who was sponsored to the Championships by both the Federal Ministry of Youths and Sport and the Nigerian Wrestling Federation, was visibly dominant in the 65kg category where she overpowered home girl Amel Hammiche 12-1 via superiority in the final match to reclaim her African title. She and other medalists in the team are billed to represent Nigeria in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics with high optimism for a medal.
In another national sporting event, the second Rivers National Open Karate and Kick Boxing Championship held from 29 January – 2 February 2020 in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, Team Nigerian Army also led the rest of the contingents by emerging overall first position with 10 Gold, 5 Silver and 6 Bronze medals asserting their superiority in the tournament.
Team Edo emerged 2nd with 10 Gold, 4 Silver and 2 Bronze medals while Team Akwa-Ibom came 3rd with 4 Gold, 3 Silver and 4 Bronze medals in the same tournament.
Similarly, a team of Nigerian Army athletes comprising 12 male and 6 female soldiers participated in the just concluded 5th Annual Lagos City Marathon held on Saturday 8th February 2020 in Lagos.
The young Nigerian Army athletes competed among Africa’s and the world’s best in both the 42-kilometer Marathon and 10-kilometer races with high spirit and enthusiasm.
The Chief of Army Staff, Lieutenant General Tukur Yusufu Buratai flagged off the historic event at the National Stadium, Surulere Lagos with over 50,000 athletes drawn from across the world to compete in the 2 categories vying for glory.
The outstanding performance displayed by the Nigerian Army team was a source of pride for the Nigerian Army with the clinching of 9 individual cash prizes in the 42 kilometer, 10 kilometer male and female categories.
It is heart-warming to note that, in the Male category of the 42 kilometer Marathon, Private Solomon Dauda and Lance Corporal Raymond Nanribel won the 7th and 10th positions respectively.
Also, in the male category of the 10 kilometer race, Private Ibrahim Mubarak, Lance Corporal Nuhu Mohammed and Corporal Sunday Gontori clinched the 5th, 6th and 9th positions respectively while in the female category of the 10 kilometer race, Private Adewale Hannah, Lance Corporal Naomi Yunana, Private Veronica Dechi and Private Ebenezer Joy put up a superlative performance to clinch the 6th, 8th, 12th and 16th positions respectively to do the Nigerian Army proud.
In his address to the victorious team, the Chief of Army Staff, Lieutenant General Tukur Yusufu Buratai congratulated the athletes for their brilliant performance which as he noted, has brought pride and honour to the Nigerian Army.
He further pledged more support to sporting activities in the Nigerian Army in line with his vision which is “To have a Professionally Responsive Nigerian Army in the discharge of it’s Constitutional Roles”.
Other dignitaries at the occasion included the Executive Governor of Lagos State, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu, members of the Lagos State Executive Council, the Chief of Training and Operations (Army)-Major General Enobong Okon Udoh, Chief of Military Intelligence – Major General Samuel Adebayo, the General Officer Commanding 81 Division – Major General Johnson Irefin, Provost Marshall (Army) – Brigadier General Hussaini Ahmed, Commanders and Commandants of Nigerian Army Formations and Institutions within Lagos, Principal Staff Officers from 81 Division, Captains of Industry, among others.