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USA win Tokyo 2020 Olympics, Nigeria finish 74th

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Eliud Kipchoge produced a marathon masterclass and the USA edged China at the top of the Tokyo Olympics medals table as the curtain fell on the biggest sports event since the pandemic on Sunday.

This is as Nigeria finished 7th on the medal table with two medals – bronze and silver.

While Ese Brume won the bronze for Nigeria, Blessing Obodururu secured the silver medal.

Brume recorded a 6.97 metres jump in the final of the event at the Tokyo Olympic Stadium to win her first Olympic medal and Nigeria’s first at this Games.

Oborududu had to settle for the silver medal in the women’s freestyle 68kg event on Tuesday in the Tokyo Olympics wrestling competition in Tokyo.

The medal was Nigeria’s first one ever in the wrestling sport since the country’s first-ever appearance at the Olympics in 1952.

After Kipchoge’s marathon win for Kenya, the United States scored victories in volleyball, track cycling and basketball to top the medals tally with 39 golds, just one ahead of China.

The 339th and final gold medal went to Serbia’s men’s water polo team, capping a Games that were in stark danger of cancellation after they became the first postponed Olympics last year.

Thirty-three sports have been contested across 16 days in largely empty stadiums, with fans barred over coronavirus risks and athletes living in strict biosecure conditions.

“Some were already speaking of ‘Ghost Games’,” Olympics chief Thomas Bach told an International Olympic Committee session on Sunday.

“What we have seen here is that on the contrary the athletes have brought soul to the Olympic Games.”

The Olympics were plagued by low Japanese support over super-spreader fears but officials maintained that a record haul of 27 gold medals, putting Japan third on the table, has won hearts.

“We believe our athletes’ earnest spirit and all-out performance moved people,” said Tsuyoshi Fukui, chef de mission for the Japanese team.

Britain finished fourth with 22 golds and the Russian Olympic Committee, the team for Russian athletes after Russia were banned for systematic doping, were fifth with 20.

– ‘Once in a lifetime’ –

A succession of big names have failed to perform in Japan, where new sports skateboarding, surfing, sport climbing and karate have brought young new stars to the fore.

But marathon world record-holder Kipchoge showed his class, kicking in the closing stages and clocking 2hr 08min 38sec to retain his 2016 title.

“I know there were a lot of people against holding this Olympics due to the coronavirus,” said a flag-waving, 47-year-old fan on the marathon route who gave his name as Tsujita.

“But I am glad it took place. This was a once-in-a-lifetime experience for everyone.”

The marathon, moved north to Sapporo to avoid Tokyo’s summer heat, was one of the few events to allow spectators.

Sunday’s closing ceremony will take place at a largely vacant Olympic Stadium, rounding off an extraordinary Games conducted mostly without live spectators for a worldwide audience of billions.

Fears of a major outbreak proved unfounded in the mostly vaccinated Olympic contingent and 430 cases were picked up during the Games, including 32 in the Olympic Village.

But athletes had the added pressure of strict ‘bubble’ conditions including orders to wear masks unless competing, training, eating or sleeping.

Victory celebrations have been low-key, with lonely laps of honour and sparsely attended medal ceremonies. But the emotions of the competitors have been on full view.

– Trans athletes, ‘twisties’ –

Superstar gymnast Simone Biles provided the most jaw-dropping moment when she abruptly pulled out of competition over a bout of the “twisties”, a disorientating mental block.

Biles, widely acknowledged as the greatest gymnast in history, recovered sufficiently to return for the final event, the beam, claiming a redemptive bronze.

Weightlifter Laurel Hubbard became the first openly transgender woman to compete at the Games and Canada’s Quinn became the first openly transgender Olympic medallist, with gold in the women’s football.

In other highlights, the US men’s team won their fourth consecutive men’s basketball crown and US swimmer Caeleb Dressel assumed the mantle of Michael Phelps with five gold medals in the pool.

Among the final events on Sunday, Canadian cyclist Kelsey Mitchell took gold in the women’s sprint while Jason Kenny won the men’s keirin to become the first Briton to win seven Olympic titles.

The Americans started the day two golds behind China but the women’s basketball and volleyball titles and US track cyclist Jennifer Valente’s omnium victory put them top of the final table.

Uzbekistan’s Bakhodir Jalolov beat US fighter Richard Torrez in the super-heavyweight boxing final, while Britain’s Lauren Price and Ireland’s Kellie Harrington also boxed their way to gold.

The Olympic flag will now pass to 2024 hosts Paris. But the circus will reconvene in just six months when Beijing, faced with boycott threats and a renewed coronavirus emergency, holds the Winter Games in February.

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Nigeria Edge Cape Verde in Qatar World Cup Qualifier

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The Super Eagles continued their 100 per cent record against Cape Verde in their second match of the 2022 World Cup qualifiers on Tuesday.

The Nigerian team won the game 2-1 after staging a comeback.

A 75th-minute own goal by Cape Verde earned Nigeria a 2-1 win in their qualifying clash in Mindelo on Tuesday, a result that stabilized the Super Eagles’ leadership of the pool as they await a home-and-away fixture against Central African Republic next month.

Dylan dos Santos steered the home team in front after 19 minutes of an intense back-and-forth by both sides, when he slipped behind the Eagles’ rearguard and slammed a rocket of a shot past goalkeeper Maduka Okoye.

The three-time African champions refused to be brow-beaten, and launched series of attacks, with Chidera Ejuke forcing the opposing goalkeeper to an acrobatic save in the 27th minute. Two minutes later, an alert Victor Osimhen would pull Nigeria level, stabbing home from close range after the goalkeeper punched following a defensive blunder.

In the 41st minute, the lively Ejuke again rattled the Cape Verde number one, before Osimhen came close to adding another one from a corner with a minute to recess.

Kelechi Iheanacho and six other UK-based players were absent when the Super Eagles played the Blue Sharks in Mindelo.

The players were forced out from the tie after the UK government insisted individuals who travel to “red zones” — which Cape Verde falls into — must quarantine for 10 days upon return.

Aside from the seven UK-based players, Serie A defender, Ola Aina, also did not travel with the squad to Mindelo, and returned to Italy instead.

In the second half, Ahmed Musa latched onto a centre by Osimhen as the Eagles pushed forward, but his tame shot was easily collected. Substitute Onyekuru was also guilty of putting too low a purchase on his shot in the 73rd minute as Nigeria streamed to the opposition area.

Two minutes later, in a spectacular backpass to his goalkeeper, Kenny Santos scored an own goal as the ball floated above the goaltender and landed in the net. The goal put Nigeria in front and eventually gave the Super Eagles the three points on the night.

Victory took the Eagles to maximum six points from two matches, three points ahead of second –placed Liberia, ahead of the Day 3 and 4 games scheduled for October.

 

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WC Qualifier: Nigeria to face Cape Verde without UK-based Stars

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The Super Eagles will tackle the Blue Sharks of Cape Verde this afternoon in Match Day 2 of Qatar 2022 FIFA World Cup qualifier without the services of UK-based players.

The Super Eagles contingent landed on the island of Mindelo yesterday morning, after a four-hour flight from Lagos aboard a special Air Peace jet.

There were 21 players on board, following the departure of UK-based players, who returned to their base as a result of UK authorities COVID-19 protocols and guidelines that must be observed by anyone returning to Britain after visiting a country with COVID-19 red label, of which Cape Verde is one.

Today’s encounter, scheduled for the 5,000 –capacity Estádio Municipal Adérito Sena, affords a number of ambitious fresh legs not deployed in Friday’s 2-0 win over Liberia in Lagos to stake claims for permanent shirts in the Nigerian squad.

The absence of Olaoluwa Aina, William Ekong, and Leon Balogun probably means that Italy –based Tyronne Ebuehi, Chidozie Awaziem of FC Boavista in Portugal, and Spain–based Kenneth Omeruo will start against the Blue Sharks this evening.

The departures of two-goal hero Kelechi Iheanacho and Alex Iwobi also open the door for perhaps Terem Moffi and Henry Onyekuru. But it is in the midfield that Coach Gernot Rohr would have to enlist entirely unaccustomed partners and charge them to deliver.

Oghenekaro Etebo, Wilfred Ndidi, and Joseph Ayodele-Aribo have all returned to the UK.

Coach Rohr may opt to deploy the versatile Abdullahi Shehu to the midfield as he has done a couple of times, most recently in Sierra Leone against the Leone Stars in a 2021 AFCON qualifier. Russia–based Chidera Ejuke, Italy–based former junior international Kingsley Michael, and new face Innocent Bonke from Sweden are available.

Captain Ahmed Musa will earn his 100th cap for Nigeria, 11 years after he won his first against Madagascar in Calabar if he takes any part in today’s encounter.

Three points will consolidate Nigeria’s leadership of Group C, confirmed after the victory over Liberia that followed the draw between Cape Verde and the Central African Republic in Douala. A win will guarantee Nigeria a minimum of three points ahead of any other team in the pool, even if Liberia’s Lone Star is victorious against Central African Republic in Monrovia.

A win will also brighten the path of the three–time African champions to the knockout final round, given that home-and-away fixture against the Central African Republic is what is on the plate in October.

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Conte breaks silence, says pre-deal with Arsenal not true

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Antonio Conte’s agent, Federico Pastorello has revealed that the coach has not agreed to a pre-deal with Arsenal FC.

There have been speculations that Conte is in line to replace Mikel Arteta at the Emirates after the later failed to win a single game this season in the Premier League.

The Gunners have also not recorded any goal in their defeats to Brentford, Chelsea and Manchester City.

Although Conte is out of work since leaving Inter Milan, he is not close to returning to the dugout.

Transfer specialist, Fabrizio Romano, tweeted: “There’s absolutely NO pre agreement between Antonio Conte and Arsenal. Conte has no verbal/pre-agreement with any club and he’s free.

“Federico Pastorello – agent close to Conte since years – confirms to @Freddie_Paxton: “Rumours about Arsenal pre-deal are not true”.

There’s absolutely NO pre agreement between Antonio Conte and Arsenal. Conte has no verbal/pre agreement with any club and he’s free.

Federico Pastorello – agent close to Conte since years – confirms to @Freddie_Paxton: “Rumours about Arsenal pre-deal are not true”.

— Fabrizio Romano (@FabrizioRomano) September 5, 2021

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