“What a man can do, a woman can do better”, goes a popular saying. In different spheres of life, women have actually proven that they often get the job done better than the men, sports inclusive. This year alone, several Nigerian sportswomen – home and abroad – have churned out near-unbelievable performances in their various sports, which attracted global and local recognition. From the Nigeria Women’s Professional League to Europe’s big leagues and on to track and field and even boxing, the country’s sportswomen have distinguished themselves and stood tall like amazons amongst their peers. Below, we take a look at some of the female athletes who have been phenomenal in 2022…
Favour Ofili (Sprinter)
We start off our list with outstanding sprinter, Ofili, a teenager. The sprinter had an incredible 2019, when she was named the best female athlete at the 2019 African U-18 and U-20 Championships in after winning the event’s 200m and 400m, setting personal best times in both races.
Same year, the 19-year-old finished second behind Patience George at the Nigerian Championships and ran under 52secs for the first time in the 400m.
However, 2022 has been an extraordinary year for the youngster, who’s broken and set new records. The first was April 15, when Ofili broke Blessing Okagbare’s 200m national record at the Tom Jones Memorial Classic 2022 in Florida, when she ran a blistering 21.96secs to also become the first collegian athlete to ever go sub 22secs.
With the time, she also emerged the first Nigerian female to break 22secs in the women’s 200m, which set a new national record. Her time is also the fastest in the world this year, the fastest ever in the NCAA and a new school record.
The US Track and Field and Cross-Country Coaches Association named her the National Athlete of the week three days after she achieved this. Two weeks later, at the LSU invitational at the Bernie Moore Track Stadium, she ran 10.93secs in the women’s 100m to win the event and move up to No.4 as Nigeria’s fastest female 100m runner behind Okagbare (10.79secs) and also at No.5 in Africa
Asisat Oshoala (Footballer)
Despite being injured for a large part of the season (three months), Barcelona Femini striker Oshoala finished top scorer in the Liga Iberdrola with 20 goals in 19 appearances to become the first African to win the Pichichi award in Spain.
Barcelona also won all 30 league games in their domestic division, with Oshoala’s Golden Boot-winning goals contributing largely to this achievement.
Although Barcelona fell to French giants Lyon in the Champions League final, Oshoala scored in the 4-0 win against Real Madrid to qualify for the final of the Spanish Cup. In her 100th appearance for Barcelona in February, she scored a brace to hit 79 goals for the club, and she now has 82 goals for the Liga Iberdrola champions.
Ashleigh Plumptre (Footballer)
Newly capped Nigeria defender Plumptre was pivotal for Leicester City in the FA WSL helping them to avoid relegation. Scoring in a 3-0 win over West Ham, the Leicester City captain also got shortlisted for FA WSL Player of The Month for her performance in February.
For Nigeria, the former England youth international was solid in defence, making her debut in the 3-0 aggregate win over Ivory Coast in the 2022 AWCON qualifying and helping the team keep clean sheets over two legs.
On May 10, she was named the Leicester City Women 2021/22 PFA Community Champion. The newly-promoted side largely has her to thank for escaping relegation.
Ese Brume (Long jump)
In March, Tokyo 2020 Olympics long jump bronze medallist Brume returned Nigeria to the World Indoor Championships podium for the first time since Olusoji Fasuba raced to 60m gold in Valencia in 2008.
She leapt a huge 6.85m personal season’s best in the third round in Belgrade, Serbia to claim the silver medal, behind pre-championships favourite and home girl Ivana Vuleta, who jumped 7.06m.
By that feat, Brume has not only become the third Nigerian to win a medal at the World Athletics Championships indoors. With Brume’s silver medal win, Nigeria has now won 12 medals in the history of the Championships with two gold medals, seven silver and three bronze.
The 25-year-old also dominated the long jump on May 12 at the Puerto Rico International Athletics Classic at the Francisco Montaner Stadium in Ponce with 6.90m (3.5m/s).
Before 2022, Brume has been exceptional. She is a three-time African senior champion in the long jump and holds a personal best of 7.17m. She is also the African junior record holder in the event and five-time African junior champion in athletics.
She was the long jump gold medalist at the 2013 African Junior Athletics Championships, 2014 Commonwealth Games, 2014 African Senior Athletics Championships and the 2015 African Junior Athletics Championships.
Chiamaka Nnadozie (Goalkeeper)
Super Falcons goalkeeper Nnadozie has been phenomenal for both country and club Paris FC, where she was awarded the Bruno Martini Award for Goalkeeping Revelation of The Season in the French women’s topflight league.
Her performances in goal helped her side qualify for next season’s UEFA Women’s Champions League after finishing third on the table, as she kept 13 clean sheets in 19 league appearances for the French women.
For Nigeria, Nnadozie made a significant impact by keeping clean sheets in both legs of their second-round qualifier against Ivory Coast and saved a penalty in the second leg.
“When the referee called the penalty, I told myself that this is the time for me to save the team. And I did exactly what I told myself,” Nnadozie told ESPN.
The 21-year-old will be a vital asset for the Falcons at the AWCON in July.
Uchenna Kanu (Footballer)
Tigres UNAL striker Kanu is garnering a lot of attention with her goals scoring ability in the Liga MX in Mexico.
Kanu became the first African woman to play in Mexico, after joining Tigres from Swedish side Linkopings, where she was the queen of goals.
The 2019 African Women’s Footballer of The Year nominee took her scoring boots from Sweden to Mexico and is enjoying a fantastic debut season, scoring her second hat-trick in a 4-1 win over Santos Laguna in April.
Since making her debut against Nexaca January 10, she has scored 17 goals in 24 games for third-place Tigres.
Mary Aina (Boxing)
In a world where most women would shy away from boxing, largely viewed as a man’s sport, this woman rushed fist first into it and hasn’t looked back.
Policewoman Aina won the World Boxing Foundation International Super Bantamweight title belt in London in February.
Popularly known as ‘Iron Abbey’, she contested against United Kingdom’s Laura Pain for the belt. With four wins and three knockouts, she won the championship bout based on a unanimous decision, becoming the first Nigerian and African female to achieve the feat.
She is a serving corps in the Lagos State Police Command, a boxing judge and professional boxer who has distinguished herself in the boxing sphere by winning several awards and recommendations as a boxing referee at amateur level.
Monday Gift (Football)
Last but definitely not the least on the list, we have Monday for her performances in the recently concluded Nigeria Women’s Football League Super Six, which saw her not only scoop up three individual awards, but her nine goals fired Bayelsa Queens to the title in Benin City, the Edo State capital.
She set two records over the course of the competition – the first hat-trick of the event and the most goals ever scored in the NWFL Super Six by a single player in a season.
Monday was awarded the top scorer award, the Most Valuable Player and the Woman of The Match on the final day clash of the competition, which earned her deserved call-up to the Super Falcons, ahead of next month’s Women’s AFCON in Morocco.