How Nigeria's Paralympians Are Outshining Their Olympic Counterparts

Nigeria Paralympian Lauritta Onye
Lauritta Onye of Nigeria poses after breaking the world record in the Women's Shot Put at the Rio 2016 Paralympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil on September 11. Nigeria's Paralympians have already outshone their Olympic counterparts. Lucas Uebel/Getty Images

Nigeria's Paralympians are doing their best to make up for the country's poor showing at the Olympics.

The country's disabled athletes have already racked up seven medals, including four golds, at the Rio 2016 Paralympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The tally, after just four full days of competition, is already more than half of the West African nation's haul of 13 medals at the London 2012 Paralympics, and there are still seven days to go in Rio.

But perhaps more significantly, the achievements of Nigeria's Paralympians have cast those of their able-bodied counterparts into the shadows. Nigeria's Olympic team brought back just a single bronze medal from Rio—won by the men's football team captained by Chelsea midfielder Mikel John Obi—in a disappointing tournament that was a marginal improvement on the London 2012 Olympics, where the country won no medals.

Nigeria's performance so far at the Paralympics means that they are currently the highest-ranked nation in sub-Saharan Africa, positioned 12th in the overall medals table between New Zealand in 11th and Mexico in 13th. (Tunisia is the highest-positioned African nation, with nine medals and sitting in 10th place.)

Nigeria's Lauritta Onye
Lauritta Onye of Nigeria poses after breaking the world record in the Women's Shot Put at the Rio 2016 Paralympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil on September 11. Nigeria's Paralympians have already outshone their Olympic counterparts. Lucas Uebel/Getty Images

Much of the country's success has been down to their dominance on the powerlifting benches. Nigerian athletes have won six of their seven medals so far in powerlifting, which sees athletes within a certain weight category bench press as much as they can. Team Nigeria's captain at the Games, Lucy Ejike, won gold in the 61kg women's category on Sunday by setting a new world record, lifting 142kg.

Ejike's gold added to Paul Kehinde, who also broke a world record by lifting 220kg when winning the 65kg men's category, and Roland Ezuruike, who had triumphed on Friday and set a new Paralympic record in the 54kg category. Two silver medals also came in powerlifting courtesy of Esther Onyema and Latifat Tijani, while Nnamdi Innocent collected bronze in the 72kg men's category.

Elsewhere, Nigeria also picked up their first track and field medal on Sunday as Lauritta Onye won the women's shot put in the F40 category, for athletes who are short in stature. Lauritta won gold with a world record throw of 8.40 meters, more than a meter further than silver medalist Rima Abdelli of Tunisia.

How Nigeria's Paralympians Are Outshining Their Olympic Counterparts | Sports