…As Rio 2016 Olympic Games begin
By George Aluo
Nigeria is in Rio with a 75-man contingent of athletes for the world’s biggest sports fiesta that gets underway today.
Would it be a repeat performance of the show of shame in London four years ago, when Team Nigeria returned home without a medal or will the country re enact the golden outing of Atlanta 96?
It would be noted that Atlanta 96, where the nation’s soccer team won gold alongside Chioma Ajunwa (long jump) remained Nigeria’s best Olympics.
However, unlike the build up to Atlanta 96, Team Nigeria is going into the Rio 2016 battle totally unprepared for the task of winning medals.
Although Sports Minister, Solomon Dalung had at the ceremony, where Team Nigeria was handed over to the Nigeria Olympic Committee (NOC) by President Muhammadu Buhari said he saw the country winning at least five medals, analysts believed that Dalung’s hope is nothing but a false one.
Though Dalung’s hope might rightly be a false one, nobody can outrightly write off Team Nigeria, given the never say die fighting spirit of the average Nigerian athlete.
Former Athletics Federation of Nigeria (AFN) president Dan Ngerem is one of those who was not giving the Nigerian squad any chance. He insisted that it would take a miracle for the country to return from Rio with a medal. He in fact believed that Nigeria winning a medal would even be a disservice to sports, given the way we prepared ahead of the Games.
“We didn’t get anything right ahead of the Games in terms of preparation. We returned from London four years ago, talked and talked without implementing anything. We should go beyond talking and doing the right things. We are in for another round of jamboree. The usual four year ritual where some people go to burn tax payers money in the name of competing at the Olympics. We have failed to plan and what you get when you fail to plan is nothing but failure,” Ngerem said.
He wondered why a director general, who supervised the nation’s campaign at the Congo 2015 All Africa Games was eased out of the sports ministry less than a year to the Olympics.
“I don’t know of any country that can do things the way we do them here and get result. However who says the country can not stumble on one or two medals by sheer luck and doggedness of the athletes. That was what happened in the case of Chioma Ajunwa in Atlanta. If we are lucky, then one of our athletes could spring a surprise. But given the kind of talents we have, we should be challenging the United States of America for medals. Unfortunately, we are under achieving or not achieving at all because of poor planning,” Ngerem submitted.
Segun Toriola, who is in Rio as Nigeria’s oldest athlete to the Games at 41 had before hitting Rio with his teammates described Nigeria’s preparation as a shamble. Toriola who is making his 7th Olympic appearance said Nigeria had never prepared this way since he started representing the country.
In Toriola’s words: “This is simply our worst preparation since I started flying Nigeria’s flag. I cant understand the team not embarking on training tour ahead of the Games.”
Analysts believed Toriola should have been named Team Nigeria captain ahead of John Mikel Obi, who was last week named the captain by the Nigeria Olympic Committee (NOC).
Obi’s captaincy it would be noted generated so much controversy with the NOC initially washing her hands off the appointment. NOC scribe, Tunde Popoola who had denied that the Olympic body knew nothing about the appointment was to later owned up and accepted responsibility for the appointment.
Team Nigeria may not have prepared well, but when they file out in today’s opening ceremony match past, she would be coming out in a fine glittering attire that was donated to the country by Japan.
The Dream Team would also be stepping out in a brand new jersey supplied by NFF kit partners, NIKE. If only attires propel athletes to do well, then one would have gone to sleep, confident that the country will do well.
But in sports the truth is that how one performs would only depend on how well the person had prepared.
As the Games get underway, this is wishing Team Nigeria the very best of luck.
Games begin with spectacle
By MONICA IHEAKAM
Source : SunOnline