Controversy erupts over brutal disqualification at Commonwealth Games

Zoe Newson, pictured here winning gold after Latifat Tijani and teammate Onyinyechi Mark were disqualified.
Zoe Newson won gold at the Commonwealth Games after Latifat Tijani and teammate Onyinyechi Mark were disqualified. Image: Getty/Channel 7

A major dispute has erupted after two of Nigeria's para powerlifters were disqualified for turning up late to a scheduled kit inspection prior to their event at the Commonwealth Games.

The Nigerian team had maintained a perfect record throughout their earlier events, having also enjoyed clean sweeps of the medals at Glasgow in 2014 and the Gold Coast in 2018 after the sport was categorised separately from weightlifting.

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On track for a third successive clean sweep in Birmingham, the African nation's hopes were shattered after Tokyo Paralympic champion Latifat Tijani and teammate Onyinyechi Mark were 25 minutes late for their inspection on Thursday.

A Birmingham 2022 statement read: "Two athletes from the Nigeria team were disqualified due to non compliance to Technical Rules 17.1.4 'athletes does not present out to the kit check in the scheduled time and/or with a form of identification, they will be disqualified (DSQ)'.

"The two athletes were present at 2.10pm, 25 minutes late from the scheduled kit check time 1.45pm."

Nigeria protested against the disqualification, saying they were unaware of the time agreed at a technical meeting in August.

Nigeria press attache Oluwatoyin Ibitoye said Tijani and Mark had arrived at the NEC venue at 1.55pm - 65 minutes ahead of the scheduled 3pm start time and five minutes before what they felt was the cut-off point.

Ibitoye said: "The Federation has appealed because we feel the athletes came in on time.

"We haven't seen any messages that we should be here at 1.45pm and on that basis we are making a protest.

"The contest has been won and lost, but it's important for us to put things on record so next time there has to be better information.

"These sort of issues should be discussed at the technical meeting where everybody is present."

Latifat Tijani is pictured with her gold medal at the Tokyo Paralympics in 2021.
Latifat Tijani won gold in the event at the Tokyo Paralympics in 2021. (Photo by Cai Yang/Xinhua via Getty Images) (Xinhua News Agency via Getty Ima)

Nigerian para powerlifters disqualified amid Comm Games controversy

Ibitoye argued that the 1:45pm scheduled time had not been relayed to Nigerian representatives during the meeting earlier in August, when these times were agreed upon.

He said Nigeria had to trust the information from their officials, who agreed they had not been informed of the kit check time.

"We will learn from this and maybe the next athletes will be here an hour or two before the event," he said.

"The opportunity has gone for these athletes and, of course, there were tears because of the hours of preparation and training and then this (happens) on technical grounds."

England's Zoe Newson and teammate Olivia Broome took advantage of the Nigerians' absence to fill the top two podium spots, with Kenya's Hellen Kariuki taking bronze.

with AAP

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