The 22nd edition of the Commonwealth Games gets underway in Birmingham, UK on Thursday with more than 5,000 male and female athletes from 72 nations and territories taking part.
They will be competing over the next 11 days in 20 sports and their multiple events which offer a total of 280 gold medals, with Nigeria being represented by 94 athletes.
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The Birmingham 2022 opening ceremony which begins at the city’s Alexander Stadium at 9pm Nigerian time is a culmination of the Queen’s Baton Relay.
The relay, which is an event involving the movement of the Games Torch, reached all 72 nations and territories before arriving in Birmingham.
The sports featuring at the Games are cycling, athletics, gymnastics, triathlon, swimming, weightlifting, rugby sevens, hockey, beach volleyball, judo, lawn bowls, table tennis, squash, netball, boxing, powerlifting and wrestling.
Women’s T20 cricket, 3×3 basketball and 3×3 wheelchair basketball are the other sports and they will all be making their Games debuts.
One unique phenomenon about this Games is that this year’s event features in Games history the largest number of events for women (136) and para-sport athletes (42).
Team Nigeria, with 70 gold, 75 silver and 91 bronze for a total number of 236 medals and an all-time ninth place ranking, have always performed on the average level.
This is in comparison with their performance at the more global Olympic Games.
At the 2018 Games in Gold Coast, which was the last edition, Nigeria were ninth with nine gold, nine silver and six bronze medals.
This time around, which is Nigeria’s 15th appearance at the Games since the debut one in 1950, the focus will be on how to improve on the 2018 performance and their best-ever outing.
That was in 1994 in Victoria, where 11 gold, 13 silver and 13 bronze for a total 37 medals were won.
Team Nigeria now have to do this by doing well in athletics with 33 men and women, nine boxers, four judokas, five para-athletes, eight powerlifters and seven para table tennis players.
They will be complemented by nine table tennis players, nine weightlifters and 10 wrestlers.
NAN reports that these 94 sportsmen and women have gone through various forms of preparations, mostly at home in Nigeria, after fulfilling the qualification standards.
They will therefore be expected to successfully shoulder the responsibilities of fulfilling the hopes and accomplishing the aspirations of several million Nigerians back home. (NAN)