Nigeria’s Eucharia Njideka Iyiazi saved the best for last, clinching the gold medal with a new Games record in the women’s shot put F55-57 event at the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games on Saturday (6 August).
The two-time Paralympic champion and world record holder registered a throw of 10.03m on her fifth attempt to record her season’s best performance in the final Para athletics field event at the Alexander Stadium.
Cameroon’s Arlette Mawe Fokoa took silver with a personal best of 9.38m and Iyiazi’s Nigerian teammate, Ugochi Constance Alam, who was making her Games debut, claimed bronze on 9.30m.
“I’m so happy that I have won,” said the 48-year-old Iyiazi, who also took home bronze in shot put F57 at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games.
“I would like to dedicate my gold medal to my husband who is my mentor and who supports me, and also to my country Nigeria. I have been competing in shot put for 22 years and what keeps me going is the morale and passion that I have for the sport.”
Iyiazi’s win helped Nigeria finish seventh on the Commonwealth Games medals table with a total 35 medals, 12 of them gold. Australia ended on top with 178 medals including 67 gold followed by England and Canada with 57 and 26 gold, respectively.
There were more outstanding performances in the women’s shot put competition with Canada’s Sarah Mickey (7.71m) and India’s Poonam Sharma (7.07m) breaking the Games record in F55 and F56 events.
Meanwhile, Vanuatu’s Elie Enock set an area record* with a throw of 7.70m in the F57 category.
First individual gold
In the men’s 1500m T53/54 event, Nathan Maguire produced a stunning victory to add to England’s medal haul on Friday.
The wheelchair racer from Salford overtook teammate Dan Sidbury in the last 50m to cross the line in 3:11.83 with Australia’s Samuel Carter taking the bronze, in the last Para athletics track event of the Games.
It was the 25-year-old Maguire’s first individual gold medal and he said he will enjoy the opportunity to add it to the trophy cabinet next to his girlfriend Hannah Cockroft’s considerable haul of hardware. The seven-time Paralympic champion Cockroft won the women’s 100m T33/34 on the opening day of the Para athletics action at Birmingham 2022.
“The medal tally in our house is quite big now, but it is very much in Hannah’s favour. This medal will go very nicely towards my side of the tally,” he said.
“To win the race on the big stage at home and against the best in the world is colossal. I can’t believe it, to be honest, and with a crowd of 35,000 people screaming for you is exciting.
“It is the biggest crowd that I have raced in front of, and the wall of noise hit me as soon as I pulled out [to overtake Sidbury]. It was incredible. It really pushed me to the line.”
Maguire’s success also reached far beyond the stadium.
“It was so important that my race was shown on BBC One TV in front of millions of people. It’s putting Para sport out there.
“When I was growing up there was no representation, there was no TV coverage for people like me. I didn’t know anybody, I didn’t see anybody like me, so I’m hoping that kids can now watch TV and realise they look like me and they can do what I’ve done and even better than what I’ve done.”
Australia topped the athletics rankings at Birmingham 2022 with 10 gold medals, three of them in Para athletics events.
Complete result from the the Para athletics events at the Commonwealth Games is available here.
*Record subject to ratification by World Para Athletics