Nyabeyeu, the crying Cameroonian
Cameroonian men are generally known for their stern and macho look but what would have made Junior Periclex Ngadja Nyabeyeu to display TOJ (tears of joy) other than winning his country’s first gold and indeed the very first medal as the 2002 Commonwealth Games continues in Birmingham?
The 29-year-old lifted 160kg in the snatch before adding a further 201kg in the clean and jerk to beat silver medallist Jack Hitila Opeloge of Samoa by just three kilograms.
India claimed their ninth Weightlifting medal of Birmingham 2022 – to match their Gold Coast tally – as Singh Lovepreet clinched bronze.
Yet it was Nyabeyeu that displayed rare emotion during the medal presentation at The NEC Hall 1 Arena.
“That was the first gold medal for Cameroon in Birmingham, in any sport, the first medal of any colour,” Ngadja said. “It’s big, very big, for me, for me family. I was crying because it was too much for me, too much to take in. I am very happy.”
Nauru’s teenage dedicates medal to Covid-19 victim
Teenage bronze medalist Maximina Uepa of Nauru has dedicated her medal to the sole COVID-19 fatality on the Pacific island.
Nearly half of Nauru’s population tested positive in early July to Covid-19 but a former Commonwealth Games champion Reanna Soloman, a mother of five who passed away aged 40 on July 3, is reportedly the only person to die of the virus.
Soloman won gold in the women’s +75kg super-heavyweights at Manchester 2002 and competed at the Olympic Games in 2004.
“It was so sad. I would like to dedicate my medal to her memory,” said 19-year-old Uepa after finishing third in the women’s 76kg.
It would be recalled that Uepa made a podium finish Day Five of the ongoing Birmingham 2022 on Tuesday behind Maya Laylor who broke two Commonwealth records on her way to clinching Weightlifting gold for Canada in the women’s 76kg final at the NEC and Nigeria’s silver medallist Taiwo Liadi.
Like father, like son from Fiji
Veteran table tennis coach Steve Reilly of Fiji will be making his debut at the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham at 62 and he will following his father’s footsteps who incidentally appeared at the Commonwealth Games at 62.
Reilly’s is showcasing his talent 84 years after his dad Jim boxed in the 1938 British Empire Games, the original name of the present-day event. The senior Reilly boxed for Scotland from 1936-43 and his son still remembers the Games uniform he brought home.
“As a kid, one of my big memories was his blazer with the embroidered Empire Games emblem on it,” he said. “It was [beautifully] stitched – not like a school badge, it had really nice gold stitching.”
In his honour, Steve will take part in the table tennis at Birmingham 2022 wearing the 1936 Scottish Boxing Championships medal while playing for Fiji. It has been a long journey to representing his adopted country in the men’s singles, mixed doubles and team event in Birmingham .
“My dad started me boxing and playing other sports at 10 years old,” Reilly said. “I [started to] focus on table tennis when I joined the Royal Navy at 17, and served for 22 years as an electronics technician and a diver.
“While working in Florida, I was approached to take my diving teaching skills to Fiji. A two-month contract turned to three, six and then permanent. I’ve been a Fijian citizen since 2009.”
Reilly was born to Scottish parents in England after his mother, a Protestant, married his father, a Catholic. He now refers to his home on the Pacific Ocean Island as “Little Scotland”.